PELLA – Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services conversion from in-clinic outpatient appointments to telehealth appointments ramped up within a week in mid-March.

Pine Rest has provided telehealth services for more than three years, but went from a little more than 400 telehealth visits in a month to now completing 6,000 visits a week due to the COVID-19 pandemic through its 19 clinic locations.

Starting March 17, as the mandates came to stay at home, all the Pine Rest Clinics closed to office visits to ensure safety and transitioned completely to telehealth, and in some cases, telephone appointments. All telehealth therapy and psychiatry visits are done through a HIPAA compliant telehealth service to meet the current needs of Pine Rest clients and future needs of individuals who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While some staff and several patients were reluctant to try this initially, we have found that people are quite happy with it now. Change can be scary, but telehealth is not,” says Jean Holthaus, L.I.S.W., Telehealth and Pella Clinic Manager, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. “Being open to therapy and psychiatry allows current patients to continue to work with the providers that they know and trust. It also allows us to treat new patients who are struggling to find care. They are also able to access a broad spectrum of specialists, whether it be for anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, or any other issues, and across all age groups.”

When the COVID-19 crisis started, the clinicians saw patients struggle with adjusting to ever-changing circumstances and trying to establish some stability in their lives. As the pandemic continues, more people are struggling with financial stress, managing family and health concerns.

The Pine Rest Pella Clinic still has capacity to add more patients to the schedule. Telehealth has opened access to people throughout the state without having some of the long wait times Iowans often experience when seeking either therapy or medication services. In an effort to keep clients and staff safe, the Clinic will continue using just telehealth appointments for the time being.

Individuals can call 866-852-4001 or visit pinerest.org/telehealth to learn more or to set up an appointment. Staff will walk people through the steps to set up their tele-appointment. The website also has wonderful resources provided by clinicians on how to cope with the stresses the stay at home order has placed on families and individuals.

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