Our firm admires the hard work, dedication and fierce commitment of frontline workers who are helping those in need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have stepped up in the face of this great challenge and we, along with the rest of our community, are profoundly grateful. To shine a light on some of the heroes in our community, we have created a series of blog posts to help share their stories of working during COVID-19.
Patti Heideman and Carol Clifford, registered nurses serving at Family Services’ Behavioral Health Centers, have been working harder than ever to ensure that their clients get the help they need. They have found inspiration in the kindness and resilience of those they serve during this challenging time.
Tell us more about the mission of your organization and the populations you serve.
Family Services brings people together to find the support they need, improving their lives and communities, and building a stronger, safer Hudson Valley. We assure access to high-quality behavioral health services in Dutchess and Ulster Counties for more than 6,000 adults each year. Our counseling and medical staff help people find their way towards recovery without stigma.
How you have been carrying your mission, programs and services forth during COVID-19? What has changed?
Our mission to support our clients during COVID-19 has continued through coordinated communication with the treatment team and clients by telephone, email and direct contact with clients requiring injectable medications on a bi-weekly and monthly basis.We have been able to interact with Dr. Munnangi, our medical director, program directors, prescribers, therapists, the office manager and assistants, to meet the daily needs of our clients.The support of Robin Peritz, VP of Behavioral Health, has enabled us to think outside the box to assist clients in receiving their medications and meeting individual roadblocks due to COVID-19.
How has your specific role changed since the start of this crisis?
Our role as registered nurses (RN) has changed. We now coordinate weekly injection schedules to be accomplished in one day, instead of two, at our Kingston Behavioral Health Center. We schedule the appointments with the clients when they come for their injections and Jerkita, our Kingston office manager, schedules them electronically. We call every client due for injections to be sure they have transportation, obtained their medication to bring for the injection and to check on how they are coping and offer assistance, if needed. The networking and seamless communication with the treatment team makes our jobs much easier.
What are the biggest challenges your organization is facing right now?
The biggest challenges have been clients adjusting to telehealth and feeling supported with their treatment. Wellness checks have eased some concerns for clients feeling isolated and they can reach out to the clinic and someone will respond as quickly as possible to help resolve their issues.
Administration has been extremely diligent with providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, and masks for clients. We feel the environment is safe and secure thanks to Andrew Martin, Kingston clinic director, who has been present at the clinic when injections are scheduled and helps the day go smoothly.
How can people show support?
Mental health support is needed now more than ever, and Family Services is ready to help! If you can, please join our efforts by donating at https://familyservicesny.org/donate/, we would be so grateful. Remember to be patient with yourself – these are challenging times. Reach out for support if you need it!
What has resonated with you most during this time?
We are humbled by the gratitude and caring attitude of the clients during this time. They are dealing with so many issues besides isolation, yet they always ask how we are doing and thank us for showing up for them. Their resilience inspires us every day.
If you had to pick something positive that has come out of this, what would it be?
Being part of a dynamic treatment team and participating with everyone on a different level has been incredible. Our adaptability to the crisis has been wonderful, and Brian Doyle, CEO of Family Services, has led ongoing webinars with staff that have made us so proud to be members of this organization.