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News & Press: WPA News

President's Message, March 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020  
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John Schneider, MD, FAPA
WPA President

Dear WPA Members,

We are acutely aware of the effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having, and will continue to have, on the community. So, what can we as psychiatrists do to make sure we are available to provided much needed care to our patients?

  • Stay abreast of the latest developments within our state (Wisconsin DHS website), across the nation (CDC COVID-19 website), and specific to psychiatry (APA’s COVID site).
  • If you are considering seeing patients using telehealth, review updated CMS Guidelines for Telehealth, as well as Wisconsin’s current telehealth guidelines. APA also offers a Telepsychiatry Toolkit, including a 2018 “Best Practices in Videoconferencing-Based Telemental Health document
  • Most importantly, think about how you will treat your patients. Consider setting up your own clinical protocols for each patient's appropriateness/ability for using telehealth visits, ensuring patient safety, and ensuring patient privacy.
  • Research and procure a HIPAA-compliant video platform that you and your patients can use for visits. This article includes suggestions of cost-effective platforms.
  • Talk to colleagues, share information and resources.
  • Keep yourself safe and healthy by taking prudent precautions. One reason for Medicaid's policy changes is the awareness that medical professionals may get "grounded." Your expertise and the care you deliver is critical, even if you cannot be physically present in the office. 
  • Look after yourself physically. Physical fitness is good for your mental health. While guidance suggests avoiding gyms, you can still enjoy long walks and outdoor activities. Make sure that you are taking time off and sleeping well. Yoga and tai chi, or other meditative practices are great for relaxation.
  • Do not panic. Uncertainty surrounding the pandemic makes all of us anxious and afraid.  Be careful with any large decisions you are making that may affect the lives of yourself and your loved ones.  This is not a time to be making sudden big decisions that may be driven unconsciously, in part at least, by fear and anxiety.

Stay safe,

John