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Mental Health, Addiction Services Now Available Via Zoom

April 01, 2020

The uncertainty of these coronavirus times only increases the population’s need for mental health and addiction services, and the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network responded quickly by shifting outpatient individual and group counseling sessions online.

Using the electronic platform Zoom, the BHN now offers therapy services for all ages, according to Dr. David Bendor, clinical coordinator of the Young Adult Services Medical Track, who is coordinating this initiative.

“We’re not just treating our current patients; we are intaking and admitting new patients, some of whom we may never meet in person in the traditional sense,” Dr. Bendor said, explaining that some new patients may only need support during the pandemic.

Virtual sessions started on a limited basis March 18, but spread across the BHN within days. Every BHN entity now offers Zoom sessions – including the dual-diagnosis programs at Rushford for patients with mental health and addiction – and most have proven wildly popular.

“The adult intensive outpatient program has had great show rates and we are even having lots of new starts because other programs in the community are not taking new admits,” said Melissa Monroe, clinical director of Rushford’s Medication Assisted Treatment Close to Home (MATCH) programs. “I am overwhelmed with how well this is working out and the positive response.

“After three days, we decided to … offer daily one-hour outpatient sessions with at least one individual session a week. Family sessions can be added on as needed.”

What patients access depends on their individual needs, Dr. Bendor said. Both individual and group counseling sessions are available.

“We’re still here for them,” he said.

He does add that the virtual sessions will never replace in-person contact with counseling professionals but bridge a critical gap created by coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

“It is not the same experience for the patient or the clinician,” Dr. Bendor said. “But it’s the best we can do right now. Most people have embraced this technology and are so happy to connect with their providers and others in groups.”

All virtual services, he said, are relatively easy to access. BHN teams can walk technically-challenged people through the log-in process. Anyone without the required technology can connect to a provider by telephone.

Anyone – existing patients or members of the community – needing behavioral health or addiction services, can call regular contact numbers found here to access the virtual services.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

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