March 19, 2020
To Our Dear & Valued Clients,
If you are reading this, you’ve received the notification via our practice management system, our client portal, or via email. We advise that you please read this notice in its entirety as a response from you is necessary.
In light of the increased restrictions surrounding COVID-19, as well as in an effort to protect our health, your health, the health of other clients, and the public’s health, we have made the very difficult decision to stop all in-person sessions for the foreseeable future. This change will go in effect today at 6:00pm. It is our ethical responsibility to provide you with options for continuity of care. It is our hope that this situation is only temporary. This situation seems to be ever evolving, so we will be in contact, updating you as things change.
- If you feel that you are maintaining and doing well, emotionally (overall), you can elect to simply cancel your immediate upcoming appointment(s).
- You can elect to check in with your therapist via our secure messaging system within our client portal or via our secure email platform. If you do not have an account set up within our client portal, we can send you an invitation to create one. Please alert your therapist if you would like to have an invitation to the client portal sent.
- You can elect to do a phone session with your therapist as a check in or maintenance session. Please know that this will be a very different format as compared to your regular in-person sessions. This may lead to you feeling uncomfortable. To help minimize this, phone sessions may be shorter, in duration, than your in-person sessions. If you elect to do a phone session, this will need to be individually coordinated with your specific therapist.
- You can elect to do a video session with your therapist during your regularly scheduled appointment. Please know that this will be a very different format as compared to your regular in-person sessions. This may lead to you feeling uncomfortable. To help minimize this, video sessions may be shorter, in duration, than your in-person sessions.
For video sessions, you will need a Google account:
- Desktop Computer or Laptop – you will need to verify the email you want your therapist to use. Your therapist will send you a “join” invitation link to Google Meet. Once you receive the link, it will route you automatically to the video platform. Here you will need to click “join”. You will also need to enable the built in microphone and camera.
- Mobile Device – your will need to verify the email you want your therapist to use. You will also need to download Hangouts Meet by Google app. Your therapist will send you a “join” invitation link to Google Meet. Once you receive the link, it will route you automatically to the video platform. Here you will need to click “join”. You will also need to enable the built in microphone and camera.
SCHEDULING & TECHNOLOGY: We ask for your grace and patience as we work out the logistics of scheduling and using technology in this manner. Our therapists will be working towards maintaining privacy while possibly working from home and/or coordinating with each other for private space within the office for phone/video sessions. There has been a surge of providers, within our own and surrounding communities as well as across the nation, transitioning to telehealth this week. This means that internet speeds may be slowed and platforms may glitch or crash. We will do everything in our power to keep things running as smooth as possible, but we want to alert you to this potential barrier.
INSURANCE: Currently, our state and federal government has lifted some of the restrictions and barriers helping providers make this transition as timely as possible. With that said, there is still no universal consensus that each individual plan has coverage of telehealth sessions, for mental/behavioral health services. Verifying coverage for each plan can be a lengthy process during a situation such as this, as many plans will require a phone call to the insurance company. Provider lines currently have an average wait time of 78 minutes and we have over 100 active clients. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to get these benefits verified before your next session and we are requesting that you call your insurance company to obtain your telehealth coverage. Some plans require providers be contracted with a specific telehealth video platform or have 3rd party payors that dictate coverage of various services. While these are major barriers, clarifying if either of these are the case with your plan will be important. Regardless, we will continue to send claims to your insurance plan as a courtesy and as we have always done. If telehealth is not covered as a service within your insurance plan, we will work diligently to make sure you have continued access to services without experiencing any undue financial burden.
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHILDREN: Video and phone sessions are difficult, logistically, for young children, and this is just one aspect that has no doubt made the decision of transitioning from in-person sessions, very difficult. For the time being, we will not be conducting phone or video sessions with children under the age of 12. Instead we will be offering parent/guardian support via video, telephone, the client portal, and/or our secure email platform.
If you or your child (12+ years) elect to do a phone or video session, we will require that you or your child are in a room that provides the level of privacy experienced during in-person sessions . We will stop all phone/video sessions if you are in a store or drive thru, common living area where other family members are present, or any other environment that includes even one additional person. We will require you to reschedule your appointment at that time.
CONSENT: If you elect video/phone sessions, we will need you to complete a new consent that reflects the use of these alternative platforms. Your therapist will reach out to you once you have determined and communicated how you would like to proceed.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Due to the level of uncertainty regarding insurance coverage of telehealth sessions as well as with the general uncertainty related to COVID-19, you may decide to wait until we are able to resume in-person sessions. We want to offer some resources if you find yourself or your child in a mental health crisis. This is not a service we’ve ever been able to offer, so having alternatives is important.
MOVING FORWARD/HOW TO PROCEED: Because we have many client appointments schedule for the very near future, we are requesting you respond with your answer regarding how you would like to proceed. You can call and leave us your response on our secure voicemail, via the client portal if you have an existing/established account, or via the text reminder. If you are the parent/guardian of a client under 12 years of age, please respond if you would like to do a phone/video check in, in place of an upcoming scheduled appointment.
If your or your child’s therapist does not receive a response by 12:00pm Monday March 23rd, your most immediate, upcoming appointment will be cancelled. All future appointments will remain on the schedule.
If your or your child’s therapist doesn’t receive any type of response by 5:00pm Friday March 27th, we will assume you are choosing Option #1, for the time being. Any remaining appointments you may have scheduled between Monday March 30th and Friday April 10th will be taken off the schedule. Because it may take you some time to make this decision, if you decide after the March 27th deadline, that you would like to try to (re)schedule a phone/video session for yourself, or a check in session for your child, please feel free to contact your or your child’s therapist. This is a rapidly changing situation and we recognize and understand you may also be facing scheduling challenges moving forward. We welcome any and all communication and will do our very best to accommodate scheduling future appointments.
If you or your child have an appointment scheduled for Saturday March 21st, this appointment will be cancelled. This will allow our therapists some additional time to become familiar with the video platform as well as to work out any scheduling challenges. This will also allow you some additional time to decide how you would like to proceed. Based on your response, your or your child’s therapist will reach out to you, individually.
We will be waiving all late cancel and no shows (for telehealth this would include no responses) fees until further notice.
We do not want you feeling any unnecessary pressure or stress in making a quick, unfamiliar change. There are many layers of stress and concern families are facing currently. If you want to proceed with video/telephone sessions and portal check-ins, we support you. If you want to take this opportunity to slow down and spend time with loved ones or just to figure things out in general, we support you. We know that whatever you decide, it will be what is best for you and your family.
Lastly, we would like to extend our sincerest apologies for not only the short notice, but adding to the chaos and disruption. We thank you so VERY much in advance for your patience, kindness, and understanding as we try to transition to an unfamiliar approach. There will be confusion, some missteps, and many unknowns, but we will navigate and get through this together. As always, please feel free to share any questions or concerns you may have.
Wishing you the very best health and happiness,
Watson Center for Wellness