Due to the stay-at-home order put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board has had to adapt its system in order to continue providing services to clients and the community.
Executive Director Deanna Brant said that on March 17, the board shifted as many staff members as possible to working remotely, and everyone is doing their best to accommodate the changes.
“Our provider system has had an enormous, rapid shift to tele-help, tele-medicine whenever that’s possible,” Brant said. “When I say enormous shift, we have a great deal of programming that occurs in the schools, in the community, and in our offices. They had to very quickly accommodate the stay-at-home order and still see clients.”
Brant added that not everything could move to remote work, but in those cases, staff and clients are taking every precaution.
“There are still some aspects of the work we do that require, for example, signatures, so we’re staggering shifts and wearing masks,” she said. “We closed our office to visitors and are accommodating all of the provisions of the stay-at-home order whenever possible.”
Brant said when in-person contact is required in places like recovery housing, physical distance guidelines and frequent cleaning are employed to keep everyone safe.
The board itself had to move all of its public meetings to a digital format in order to keep them safe and open to the public.
Brant said the board remains committed to providing its services during the crisis.
“It’s been a period of enormous uncertainty,” she said. “We’ve been doing everything we can. We’ve worked hard as a board and a system to shift whenever possible to the safest services delivery mechanism that will still allow all the clients to have intervention treatment whenever possible. It’s been an enormous change.”
Brant added the crisis has been especially tough for clients who already struggled with isolation and would struggle without being able to reach the supports in their life.
“We’re really tying to conduct a lot of outreach to really make sure they don’t get lost,” Brant said.
She added another challenge is providing services remotely doesn’t work for everyone.
“Some (the challenge) is from the standpoint of technology,” Brant said. “Not everybody has a smart phone and even if they do, they don’t always have minutes. We even have groups that are running virtually but all of the elements of public WiFi are gone now. (Not) everybody can be an equal recipient.”
Brant said the board is expecting an increased need in mental health support when the pandemic ends, and it is already trying to plan ways to accommodate the surge and take care of its staff.
“I think we’re expecting a mental health surge of demand to come to the system as it gradually reopens,” Brant said. “We are expecting struggles on the part of the work force. We hold it together, but when the worst has passed, that’s when the helpers need help, so we’re preparing for that, too.”
Brant said regardless of the situation and the circumstances, the board remains open and ready to help in Delaware and Morrow counties.
“We are still open for business,” Brant emphasized. “Our helpline is still open. All of those services still exist, just in a different form. We’re open for business. I don’t want people to think that because we aren’t coming out to see people, we aren’t here. There’s no wrong door. Call anyone in our system and they will connect you where you need to be connected. We’ve had to adapt these programs, but we are still here.”
Brant said the community has really come together during the crisis, and she thanked them for their partnership.
“We’re in this together,” Brant said. “We’re working closely with law enforcement, recovery housing, and Grady Memorial Hospital in order to continue services. We wouldn’t be able to do this without our community partners.”
More information about the board can be found at www.dmmhrsb.org/ or by calling 740-368-1740.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.