Our Telehealth Story

The winter of 2018 was filled with very cold temperatures and lots of snow. CARE had many clients unable to attend much needed appointments due to being unable to make it to the clinic or felt it was unsafe to travel to the clinic. We thought about how in addition to snowstorms, so people in Minnesota live in place that do not have accessible mental health therapists. The problem was clear and the solution to offer telehealth services just made sense. 

Over the summer of 2018, we began attending telehealth trainings and developed our first edition of our telehealth consent form for our clients. In early fall, we identified a HIPAA compliant platform for telehealth and signed the business agreement. 

We used the next six months to refine our processes and by Spring of 2019, we began planning with Fairview’s Behavioral Health Provider Network to be their exclusive telehealth provider to help both CARE and Fairview develop and refine our systems to be the best in the state so that we can serve people in need. 

In the Summer of 2019, we trained our entire team in telehealth and this has been a mandatory training since that time for all new hires at CARE. In the summer and fall of 2019, we continued to refine our consent form and changed our platform to one that is faster, has exceptional tools to support therapy, and is beyond easy to use (even for people who find technology confusing)…you may have heard of it: zoom. 

CARE’s intentionality with telehealth has been so important to us and is a reflection of our ongoing mission to build a community (train and support our team) to strengthen the community. Our telehealth partnership with Fairview, dedication to training our entire team the ten months prior to the pandemic, and having streamlined processes set the stage for CARE to help in many ways during the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health crisis. We were not only set up to see all of our current clients via telehealth without missing a single day, all we had to do was order more zoom account and get our team home.

During the weekend MN moved to isolation, CARE posted online and through email blasts all of our processes we spent countless hours developing and refining to help our fellow mental health agencies stay afloat and quickly adapt without needing to recreate the wheel. Our goal was to support the grater mental health community so that our friends, family, and neighbors had the support they needed during this difficult time. Simply put, it was the right thing to do and we’re so grateful we were able to share.

Starting the first week of isolation, we decided to double down on our team. With a three- and five-year-old at home with us, our focus was on keeping the kids safe and as entertained as possible so we could make sure our team at CARE was well cared for and that their efforts during this trying time were noticed. Each week, we did something special for the team from individual notes sent to their homes, a call to each member of the team, a post-card with their new co-workers (a picture of everyone’s furry friends), or a small gift.

Now, years later, we still do a lot of telehealth for so many reasons. Snow days and when people are sick and still need therapy are two of them, as well as for ease of time, location, or other reasons.