The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Oregon awarded a $10,000 grant to expand Shangri-La’s Outpatient Mental Health (OPMH) Clinic’s telehealth services. The expansion of telehealth services will help ensure individuals served by Shangri-La’s clinics can continue to receive consistent mental health treatment and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shangri-La’s OPMH Clinics in Salem and Eugene have continued to provide mental health services throughout the pandemic by meeting with individuals via telephone or video. Early on in the move to virtual services, the clinic team realized that many individuals served by the clinic did not have the technology to participate in virtual face-to-face therapy or assessments. In many cases, this caused a communication breakdown between the client and the clinician and was counterproductive to establishing or maintaining mental health wellness.
“It is unclear as to when we can resume in-person appointments, so we decided to figure out a way to provide services by meeting the person where they are at right now… their home,” explained Robin Winkle, clinic administrator. “Since COVID-19, we have seen the need for mental health services increase significantly. Having the ability to have virtual meetings with individuals will help ensure they are receiving the mental health services they need, along with ensuring they are safe and taking care of themselves. In the therapy environment, there is great value in actually seeing a person’s face and their expressions.”
In the pilot program Shangri-La will provide, user-friendly, trackable, internet-included tablets that will be delivered to individuals via a shipping company. Each tablet will be utilized for virtual appointments, then returned to Shangri-La, sanitized, and delivered to the next person. As each person's tech-savviness varies greatly, each tablet will include user instructions and a phone number to call for technical assistance.
The grant from RALI Oregon will allow Shangri-La’s OPMH Clinic to provide on-going technology for telehealth services to 30-35+ individuals per month who otherwise would not have the tools available to continue their treatment. The funds will cover initial pilot start-up costs, like the purchase of tablets and shipping costs.
If the pilot is successful, Shangri-La’s clinic team hopes that it can sustain the telehealth expansion through additional fundraising and billing for remote services.
“If this works, we’d like to keep it going, even after the pandemic,” said Winkle. “Telehealth appointments may be best suited for some individuals’ needs and preferences, and if that’s the case, we want to be sure to have those types of appointments available.”