Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide
ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus (also called COVID-19 or novel coronavirus) spreads easily from person to person, so it’s recommended that people practice something called “social distancing”. This means staying away from other people in order to avoid catching or spreading the virus. It also means that schools, clinics, and offices may close, events may be cancelled, or people may need to work from home.
This can make it difficult for providers to see their patients/clients/ participants in person. The federal government and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have made certain changes to regulations and laws to help keep people safe and continue essential services for vulnerable populations during this time. Pennsylvania government is now letting providers use telehealth or telemedicine to see people remotely, even though that wasn’t always allowed before or it required certain technologies.
Service providers must determine if the risk of suspending services is greater than the risk of continuing to provide services. If continuing services is a consideration, the provider must then determine if services can be delivered in a manner that does not unduly increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has issued guidance for the use of telehealth as a delivery method for medically necessary behavioral health services as ordered, referred, or prescribed by a provider or practitioner. This allows services to be delivered effectively while the patient is quarantined, self-quarantined, or self-isolated due to exposure or possible risk of exposure to COVID-19.
For 90 days (est. June 15, 2020), or while the valid emergency disaster declaration is authorized by the Governor related to COVID-19 remains in effect, which ever comes first. It is likely that it may be re-issued as appropriate if emergency disaster declaration continues to be authorized by the Governor.
Many agencies are shifting their practice from in person visits to telehealth in order to protect the health of their staff, patients, and the community from the spread of COVID-19. Although it can be difficult to commit to learning and using new technical and community skills. An abundance of research shows us that behavioral health visits by video conferencing are just as effective as being seen face to face!
Are you caring for a person who is making the switch from in person visits to appointments via a telehealth platform? Use this resource as a tip sheet to help prepare a person for their appointment and guide them to having a successful telehealth visit.
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.