WELLSVILLE — Clarity Wellness Community, a mental and behavioral health provider in Allegany and Wyoming counties, quickly made the transition to providing services remotely because of the stay-at-home order by New York state.
Clinical and care management staff began working remotely on March 17, followed by the remainder of staff members on March 23.
Clarity Executive Director Michael Damiano said the ability to move so quickly to a virtual environment was the result of the organization’s previous investment in telepsychiatry services. The New York State Office for Mental Health had given the organization permission to provide psychiatric services through telepsychiatry in 2018 to help address the shortage of psychiatric providers in the state.
The services are provided through a HIPAA-compliant environment designed specifically for mental health providers.
Damiano said the efforts were so positive that Clarity’s Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) was chosen to pilot telepsychiatry and has since been cited as a very successful example of the use of technology.
The Finger Lakes Performing Provider System (FLPPS) also selected Clarity to receive a grant for the organization’s telepsychiatry program, and ultimately expand the number of sites where telepsychiatry was available.
Damiano said while those services were still office-based, with the psychiatrist offsite, that experience revealed clients were comfortable with telehealth services, and other mental health providers, such as the agency’s therapists, could also make the move to remote services during the emergency.
“Clarity’s pre-existing telepsychiatry program was a key piece in Clarity’s ability to continue supporting its clients,” Damiano said. “The agency was well-positioned to keep operating without the need for a physical office.”
Damiano made the decision to move services offsite about a week before Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his order regarding essential services. Although Clarity is an essential service, it is safer for both clients and staff for the services to be provided remotely.
People seeking counseling services may continue to reach Clarity at (585) 593-6300 to make an appointment. Crisis appointments also are available. The Allegany County crisis hotline also continues to be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Clarity staff at (888) 448-3367.