We are in uncertain times as we all adapt to risks that the COVID-19 virus presents to our community and the world. As owner and primary clinician at Eudaemonia Connections Counseling Services LLC, it is my professional responsibility to continue to closely monitor and follow guidance from the Health Department, the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, federal, local and Oregon state government recommendations and mandates.
Standard precautions that medical professionals encourages everyone to follow:
State of Oregon and Local Community Updates:
On Thursday 3/12/20, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in order to receive necessary supplies and resources for the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Brown ordered a ban of gathering of 250 or more, and on Friday 3/12/20 all Portland Public Schools were closed until April 1st, 2020.
Portland Water Bureau stated they will not shut down water for unpaid bills. Mayor Wheeler's office released a statement regarding new actions:
Here are the latest actions the City of Portland is specifically taking:
On Fri 3/13/20, both Beaverton and Sherwood issued state of emergency declarations for two weeks. This will allow the cities to issue emergency rules, seek state and federal aid, and possible reimbursements on city funds spent and other provisions responding to the virus pandemic. At this time, Washington County has highest concentration of coronavirus cases in Oregon.
As of Fri 3/13/20, of the 30 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Oregon as of Friday afternoon, 10 have been in Washington County. Another eight are in Linn County, two each in Jackson, Marion and Umatilla counties, and; one each in Deschutes, Clackamas, Douglas, Klamath, Multnomah and Polk counties. State health experts Thursday said there could as many as 250 residents who have already contracted coronavirus.
On Wed 4/8/20, Gov. Kate Brown announced that the schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
As of Wed 4/8/20, out of 23,007 persons tested: 21,826 were negative and 1181 were confirmed positive cases and 33 deaths in Oregon
Oregon Health Authority (OHA): COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions
UPDATED: Coverage for Telemental Health and COVID-19:
OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency:
"Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced, effective immediately, that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
This exercise of discretion applies to widely available communications apps, such as FaceTime or Skype, when used in good faith for any telehealth treatment or diagnostic purpose, regardless of whether the telehealth service is directly related to COVID-19.
In support of this action, OCR will be providing further guidance explaining how covered health care providers can use remote video communication products and offer telehealth to patients responsibly. 'We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency,' said Roger Severino, OCR Director. 'We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities,' Severino added."
The Notification of Enforcement Discretion on telehealth remote communications may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html.
For more information on HIPAA and COVID-19, see OCR's February 2020 Bulletin: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/february-2020-hipaa-and-novel-coronavirus.pdf - PDF
I recognize the unique challenges, the unknown, anxiety, courage, and convergence that we all are experiencing as public health officials determine next steps; and I will continue to monitor guidance from public health officials and send updates that may affect your mental health care as warranted.
Currently Business As Usual via Telehealth:
At this current time, I am still accepting new patients, and for new and existing patients I will continue to offer sessions via telehealth and pause in-person sessions until further notice. Your health and well-being are my priority and primary concern. We shall return to in-person sessions as soon as we know more of what is happening with the current pandemic, when the impact and risks starts to lessen, and we can resume our normal lives.
Teletherapy Session Options:
Teletherapy is an interactive audio, video, or data communications between patient and therapist. It is a wonderful and convenient alternative to in-person sessions, such as if you are not able to attend an in-person session due to weather conditions, illness, or being out of town, but would like to continue to receive continuity of care. For these sessions, you will be asked to complete a Teletherapy Informed Consent form and you will be fully informed of the risks and benefits of this service.
A teletherapy session is scheduled like a normal session, and I will contact you at the day/time of our session and is for 55-minutes. Majority of our sessions will be via telephone but video conferencing is also available if you prefer that method of contact. Payments for teletherapy are the same fee rate amount as in-person sessions and are billed the same way. If you would like to schedule a teletherapy session as an alternative option to your in-person Intake or regular sessions, then please let me know and we can make that happen.
Superbills can be used for teletherapy sessions, as they should be covered by your insurance company, however if you are uncertain you may check with your insurance provider to determine if covered.
Cancellations and Rescheduling:
Please be aware cancellation policies and late cancellation fees will still apply for both in-person and teletherapy sessions. For new patients, please contact me at 503-388-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org for new Intake appointment cancellations, and for established clients you may log into Client Portal to make changes or cancel an appointment 48-hours or more in advance. For session changes or cancellations 24-hours or less, then please contact me. If sessions are canceled less then 24-hours in advance or on same day there will be a late cancellation fee. Late cancellation fee will be waived if the cause is for medical and emergency reasons but is not waived for non-medical/non-emergency reasons.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. In the meantime, I hope you and your loved ones continue to stay safe and healthy, and I am looking forward to meeting you and/or continuing to work together whether in-person or teletherapy, and together we will get through these uncertain times.
Dr. Rebecca Wara-Goss, LMFT, Ph.D.
March 20, 2020