Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update Page
As the physician owners of Pacific Psych Centers, Dr. Jessica and I wanted to have a place where our patients can go for current updates and recommendations, and clinic policies regarding the ever changing Coronavirus pandemic. This webpage will be updated as often as we need to by both Dr. Jessica and myself. Feel free to share to the public (people who are not patients at Pacific Psych Centers) as well. We will try to provide general guidance about how to stay safe, uninfected, manage mental health, and provide information regarding specific issues concerning clinic policies (hours of operation, whether certain services are available, etc.).
Remember… we are all in this together and we all need to do our part! Stay Safe.
Drs. Jake & Jessica
Today’s update: Saturday June 20th, 2020
I hope everyone is doing well. We are starting to open things up a bit at the clinic and there are some policies and scheduling changes that I’ll go over below. I’ll get right to the changes…
- Mask policy: Masks are now required upon arrival to the clinic and throughout their appointment. For patients that don’t have a mask, the clinic will provide one. One exception to this policy is that patients receiving ketamine infusion treatments may remove their masks during the infusion, but it must be replaced following the treatment. All employees will be wearing masks at all times during business hours.
- Screening upon check-in: Patients will be screened by our front desk staff with a few questions regarding any recent exposures to sick people or if they have been sick themselves. Any patients that answer any of our screening questions positively will be required to exit the clinic and reschedule their appointment.
- We are opening up some “in-office” appointments with myself, PA Robert Bennett, and one of our therapists, Christina Heymoss. I will have in-office appointments on Friday mornings, PA Robert Bennett will have in-office appointments on Wednesdays, and Christina will be in the office on Mondays.
- We will continue to provide tele-psychiatry and tele-psychotherapy options for our patients for the foreseeable future.
- Infusions are being done on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only at this time. Tuesday and Thursday infusions are still a possibility, but if you don’t see them open for online scheduling you can contact the office to see if accomodations can be made, which they usually can. There will likely be 2 Saturdays per month open for infusions as well.
We are still paying very close attention to the situation as is unfolds. I have no idea what the future has in store, but you can rest assured that we are doing everything we can to stay open and keep the clinic a safe place to receive treatment whether it’s in-person or via telemedicine. I appreciate the flexibility and compliance to our policies that everyone (staff and patients alike) has shown over these last few months. Hopefully we can put COVID in the rear view mirror at some point, but for now we’re going to need to continue being flexible.
Sincerely, Dr. Jake
I hope everyone is doing well during this unprecedented and stressful time. No one knows quite where we are headed, and if anyone tells you they do, they are just guessing. We are living in uncertain times and it’s weighing on us all in different ways. I don’t have much of an update this weekend, so I’ll just give a quick status update as to the operations of the clinic, and provide a few remarks.
We continue to provide TMS and ketamine infusions in the office, which are the only services being offered at the office. All psychiatry and psychotherapy appointments are being done via our telemedicine platform called Chiron Health. Telemedicine has actually been a great tool for us. There is no end date to our telemedicine-only psychiatry and psychotherapy services.
We have drastically reduced our staffing of office personnel including providers, and reduced hours of operation slightly for ketamine and TMS. I’m the only provider that has been into the office in several weeks. All our other providers are seeing patients via telemedicine. We continue to vigorously and methodically disinfect treatment rooms between patients for both ketamine and TMS. We have had no known COVID-19 exposures in any staff, providers, or patients to this day, thankfully.
We are treating this as a long terms thing at this point, and if we happen to move back toward “normal” sooner that expected that will be great, and we’ll adjust accordingly. I hope you all stay safe and that you’re all able to find ways to cope with the physical and economic toll this is taking on us all. Also, I’ll be posting several new blog articles over the coming months and you can find them here.
Warmly, Dr. Jake
Please check out the new article that I wrote on our blog, The New Normal: Tips from a psychiatrist on how to optimize mental health and wellness during the current pandemic. CLICK HERE for the link or go the blog
A question on everyone’s mind: Is my treatment essential, or should I come in for treatment?
I cannot answer this question, but I can bring up a couple points to help you decide.
First of all, every decision that we make regarding medical treatments involves a decision regarding risk vs. benefit. What I mean is, every treatment has potential risks and potential benefits, and these factors are dynamic, so what may have been a decision to continue a particular treatment last month, may be a different decision this month. Some times this is an easy decision, like when the risks are obviously low and the benefits are obviously high. An example of a relative easy decision is whether or not a diabetic person takes insulin when their blood sugar is high..,pretty much a no brainer to take the insulin. It can get complicated when add in a variety of circumstances. Like add in a pregnancy, or an experimental or expensive treatment, or, in the current times, a risk of being potentially infected with COVID-19 on your way to treatment or while your in the office. The decision to continue to do a treatment is very complicated at times. Additionally, you have to weigh the risks of not doing a treatment as well. Will a person who doesn’t receive a treatment potentially require a higher level or more invasive/higher risk treatment? These are all things that patients need to think about when deciding “Is my treatment essential of should I come in for treatment.”
To help people decide specifically whether or not you should come into Pacific Psychiatric for a ketamine or TMS treatment, here are few points and pieces of information to help you decide…
- The clinic has implemented many protocol changes to decrease risk of infection for employees and patients, and is compliant with all mandates from higher authorities.
- What will happen if you delay or cancel treatments?
- Will having the treatment prevent the need for higher levels of care or more risky interventions?
- Have you been exposed or been sick?
- Are you in a high risk age group or demographic?
- Are there things that can make you safer when you go into the clinic for treatment, such as wearing a mask or gloves?
- How much will your quality of life suffer or enhance as a result of either having or not having a treatment?
Quick updates regarding clinic operations:
- We still remain open for ketamine, TMS, and Spravato treatments. We are considered an essential service at this time. Our hours and availability are decreased in order to limit the foot traffic in the clinic at any one time. Online scheduling is still available, but if you need clarification, call the office or use the webchat feature on the website to get questions answered.
- All staff will be wearing masks while working, and we are requesting that all patients wear them as well when they are in the clinic.
- Please maintain a minimum of 6 feet from others while in the clinic.
- If you are sick with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other cold or flu symptoms, or have have been exposed to a sick person, withing in the past 48 hours please do not come in for treatment and call us to discuss other options. We can’t risk exposing other patients, the doctors, or the clinic staff, as this would shut down the clinic for everyone.
- All psychiatry and psychotherapy has been converted to telemedicine via Chiron Health. This allows me to keep all of our providers working from home and extremely limit the foot traffic in the clinic.
- There still have been no known exposures at this time to any provider, clinic staff, or patient, and we are being very diligent with disinfecting.
- If we have to shut down for any reason (exposure, illness, state mandate, etc.) we will contact all scheduled patients for those two weeks that are affected, and inform other patients here.
- We remain open for ketamine, TMS, and Spravato treatments. We are considered an essential service at this time.
- We’ve made many changes to our clinical protocols to make our clinic as safe as possible. The changes are too numerous to list
- There have been no known exposures at this time to any provider, clinic staff, or patient, and we are being very diligent with disinfecting.
- If you have been exposed to a sick person, or have been symptomatic in the past 48 hours (fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other cold or flu symptoms) please do not come in for treatment and call us to discuss other options. We can’t risk exposing other patients, the doctors, or the clinic staff, as this would shut down the clinic for everyone.
- If we have to shut down for any reason (exposure, illness, state mandate, etc.) we will contact all scheduled patients for those two weeks that are affected, and inform other patients here.
- Please take appropriate precautions to stay safe. Practice social distancing. Only leave your home when you have too.
- We all are learning new ways to cope with stress, since most our normal ways of coping have been become temporarily unavailable, and stressors seem to be only increasing at this point. If you need assistance with developing new ways to cope, we have two fantastic therapists that are taking new patients. All psychotherapy appointments are being done via telemedicine. Please contact our office for details and to schedule.
3/21/2020: Well…we made it to the weekend! Coronavirus continues to alter the world we used to live in. We are all adapting to a constantly changing situation. For most of us, our typical ways that we decompress from stress has been changed drastically, if not removed altogether. That, coupled with the increased stressors of the medical risks and economic impacted have lead to where we are now.
This is from an email that I received from the San Diego County Medical Society….”Finally, and maybe most importantly, taking care of your own wellbeing in these trying times is something that can’t be overlooked. The UC San Diego Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion is providing free, daily online streams and recordings of mindfulness and compassion sessions. I encourage your participation, recommendations and feedback.You can access the Sanford Institute here.
Here is another helpful piece of information that I was sent from the SDCMS, For patients that have jobs requesting notes from physicians, this link is to a document that will suffice. It’s from the San Diego Medical Society.
Regarding updates to the clinic, we will be potentially adjusting things with short, or no notice. For now, there are no additional updates to clinic hours (still M-F, 9-5), and all psychiatry and psychotherapy appointments are, or will be converted to telemedicine via “ChironHealth,” and we continue to provide IV ketamine infusions, TMS treatments, Spravato treatments, and nutrient infusions. We are putting in place a lot of small changes that will limit foot traffic in the clinic, which will help mitigate risk of exposure.
Also…very helpful info: This is from one of Dr. Jessica’s critical care colleague’s here in San Diego.
- Now for some information that I would like to pass along in the event that you develop symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, or other respiratory symptoms) or are worried that you or someone you know may have been exposed. These are two nurse triage lines that you can call:
- The nurses will screen you, and if you meet criteria for testing, will direct you to a location where this can be performed or to an urgent care or ER.
- Please note: you will most likely not be admitted to the hospital unless you are sick enough to require oxygen or more aggressive therapies.There just are not enough hospital beds to care for people with mild or no symptoms. These patients are typically instructed to wait at home in self quarantine for at least two weeks while waiting for the test results (now usually less than 24-hour turnaround) and even if the test is positive.
- Unfortunately, there is not yet enough capacity to test everyone that is just “not feeling good.” We are doing everything we can to increase this capacity. For example, at Scripps Memorial in La Jolla we have now increased the testing capacity from 50 per day to 500 per day, and triage tents have been set up to improve access. Other hospitals have made similar improvements. Just as importantly, there is not enough capacity in the emergency rooms to see everyone with mild or no symptoms. These are relatively scarce resources and must be used wisely for those that really need them. If too many people show up that are not sick, there won’t be enough resources to deliver the necessary testing and care to those that are. Furthermore, you will only increase your risk of exposure by leaving the safety of your home for a place where many people have symptoms and are potentially infected.
3/19/2020: Today we are open 9-5 and will be providing TMS treatments, ketamine infusions, and nutrient drips. We are only doing telemedicine appointments indefinitely to limit potential Coronavirus exposure to staff and patients. The conversion to telepsychiatry has drastically limited foot traffic in the clinic, and expanded access to psychiatric are to those that can’t and/or shouldn’t be going into the public to receive treatment. Should you have technical difficulties with our telemedicine platform (Chiron Health), please utilize the orange help box on their site, and feel free to contact our office for assistant as well. The quickest way to reach our office is the webchat feature in the lower right hand page of our website, but phone works as well. We have cut back on our staff as much as possible as well, but we have been able to manage well so far.
Our staff, by the way, deserves a round of applause. They have adapted amazingly well to accommodate all the ongoing changes. I’m talking specifically about our admin support team (Ashley and Alex), and our providers new and old (Robert, Rafael, and Christina…and soon Alex). Without their hard work, flexibility, and ingenuity we would likely be closing our doors till we get the all-clear. So if you get a chance please thank them for their continued efforts in these trying times.
3/18/2020: Today was interesting. We were very busy today, mostly with coordination of switching all of our existing psychiatric appointments over to telemedicine, and with conducting telemedicine appointments. I appreciate the work of my staff in doing this and helping patients that are having technical difficulties, and I appreciate the patients’ willingness to convert over to telemedicine. This helped limit the foot traffic and potential viral exposure to patients and staff. This is the type of effort our society needs to do as a whole to help end this pandemic sooner than later. We are in the process of going 100% virtual. So if you haven’t been contacted to convert, you will be soon. All of our providers are getting the hang of telemedicine and it is turning out to be a really great resource. It is convenient for providers, office staff, and patients.
Our foot traffic is limited to TMS, ketamine, and Spravato treatments, and we plan to continue to offer these treatments. Switching over all of the psychiatric appointments to telemedicine has kept the clinic much safer for patients that are required to come in to the clinic, and safer for the staff and providers.
Our hours remain M-F 9-5 and if we need to modify them, we will alert patients on this site.
We’re all in this together!
3/17/2020: As the situation continues to develop, we continue to adapt. Pacific Psychiatric is making changes in our policies. Here is list of some of our more significant policy changes and recommendations.
- Ketamine/Spravato & TMS Services: We continue to provide both treatments during normal business hours.
- We are cleaning treatment rooms in between patients vigorously with virucidal agents.
- We encourage patients to only bring essential guests to their treatments. Escorts can safely wait in their cars for patients to complete treatments. We won’t restrict patients from bringing escorts into the treatment rooms, but please be mindful of the risk that this imposes to other patients, our staff, and to the escorts themselves.
- Patients with cold or flu-like symptoms within the past 24 hours should not present to the clinic for treatments, and should make arrangements to reschedule if possible. Patients with active or recent symptoms should be symptom-free for 24 hours prior to coming to an appointment, and will be screened for such upon arrival.
- All patients will be expeditiously brought into the treatment rooms to prevent any lingering in the lobby.
- Psychiatric Medication Management & Psychotherapy Services: We are in the process of transitioning all existing appointments to telemedicine. We have been doing telemedicine daily for the past 6 months, but are now in the process of converting to exclusively telemedicine. All of our provider now have the capability to see patients through our telemedicine platform. This is a great service and not only does it completely eliminate the risk of exposure, it is very convenient for both patient and provider. Please call our office if you need help setting this service up.
- Other clinic policies
- Late-Cancel/No-Show penalties are on hold until further notice. With that said, please call and let the clinic know as know as soon as you can when you know you are not going to be attending a scheduled appointment so we can adjust the schedule accordingly.
- All staff will be sent home or encouraged to not come to work if they develop any cold or flu symptoms.
- Hours of operation continue to be 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday.
Pacific Psychiatric has had to make some tough staffing decisions as well. We have had to make some layoffs to accommodate for the downturn in business, but rest assured, you are left with a committed team of professionals. We are doing our best to limit exposures, and will continue to provide quality psychiatric care.
Sincerely Drs. Jake & Jessica Hollingsworth.
Contact the office via phone, email, or through the BirdEye messenger in the lower corner of the screen with any scheduling, medication, or any other concerns.