Clara Martin Center is open and providing Mental Health & Substance Use Services while communities are required to “stay at home” order
The focus at Clara Martin Center (CMC) has always been on the health and wellbeing of those that we serve. Even during this time of “stay at home” order, our focus remains on our mission. We are still open and providing our services, just a little differently. “We are responding to the unfolding COVID-19 situation with daily adjustments in how we provide care. Our top priority right now is the health and safety of everyone in our communities,” said Melanie Gidney, Executive Director of Clara Martin Center.
Governor Phil Scott has designated mental health and substance use disorder services employees as essential workers. Through the end of April (for now) the Clara Martin Center has changed how they provide services. The Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, Sarah Squirrell stated “In order to honor the intent of the most recent order from Governor Scott to mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19, it is absolutely critical that providers continue to identify essential services with the health and safety of both staff and recipients in mind. As a reminder, “Essential Services” are services that assure the health and safety of a person. Essential Services delivered in-person to a client may continue if the services cannot be provided in an alternate, remote way such as telehealth, telephone, or other remote platform. All in-person service delivery must follow precautions previously set forth by the Department of Mental Health.”
To ensure that the Clara Martin Center can continue to safely and responsibly provide care there will be continual changes in response to how the agency will protect and interact with clients, staff, and residents of our communities. With several new State and Federal Laws recently passed as a result of COVID-19, it is imperative that the agency knows and understands how they will affect the business, the workforce, and the clients. Every day is a new day with new information and challenges presented. The Clara Martin Center has been facing these challenges in the areas of programming, staffing, community, and infrastructure as outlined below.
- Case Managers are still providing outreach services in the community such as grocery shopping for high risk clients, medication delivery to help maintain clients in their homes, education around universal precautions, safety measures, and development of remote capacity for individuals and group treatment options.
- Therapists continue to support their clients over the telephone. This has been well received because it allows the client to continue on in their treatment yet remain in the safety of their own homes.
- There are some treatment groups which are continuing via Zoom video conferencing. We are looking to expand our Zoom capability from group work to include individual services.
- The Substance Use and Criminal Justice Services Program is conducting video Zoom groups and individual phone Zoom sessions for substance use specific groups such as Intensive Outpatient Program, individual and case management services. The program is also providing remote individual support for people with a history of sexual offending. There is continued collaboration with probation and parole, the VT Domestic Violence Council, the DUI Docket, and Victim’s Advocates.
- Emergency service evaluations are being provided remotely to CMC clients through the use of telehealth. Both voluntary and involuntary assessments are being completed through the use of telehealth and CMC emergency staff work from home to facilitate needed admissions to hospitals.
- Independent schools, East Valley Academy and Hartford Regional Alternative Program, have closed for the year but staff are providing regular outreach calls to students and families to maintain services; planning and delivery of educational aspects coordinated for each student including purchasing of needed equipment to facilitate education.
Approximately 85% of staff have transitioned to work remotely from home with remaining staff working in each office supporting the operational needs within the organization.
- We are working with the VT Food Bank to assure availability at CMC food bank in Bradford to meet client needs; Coordinating with the Randolph Area Food Shelf to pick up pre-packaged bags of food and delivering to clients in the community.
- We are coordinating with Gifford Medical Center (the host for the VT Food Bank’s VeggieVanGo program) in making this free, fresh veggie program available to our community as a whole. The program runs on the 2nd Thursday of each month; currently offered as a drive- thru service.
- We are working with Gifford Medical Center Behavioral Health Staff and Medical Staff on as needed mental health response support.
- Outreach to all law enforcement agencies in the area is happening to plan around mental health responses. We will be providing community based assessments (where available) through the use of telehealth while also available to respond in person with law enforcement if needed.
- Town mutual aid discussions are occurring as well as the development with other community partners for Randolph, Brookfield, Braintree, Hancock, Granville, Rochester, and Bradford currently.
- CMC Public Relations work is focused on community education, maintaining mental health and sobriety through the use of social media, website, signs on all facility doors, and letters to clients.
“While these efforts and similar challenges are being felt across our entire system of care in Vermont, the mission of our role is to provide support for the most vulnerable in our communities and that drives the work we do. Our communities are going to need healing and support through and after this crisis and the Clara Martin Center is positioned to provide that support.”Christie Everett, Director of Acute Care and Access at Clara Martin Center
The Clara Martin Center is working every day to stabilize the local communities. In a letter to clients from CMC’s Medical Director, Doctor Kevin Buchanan said: “We at the Clara Martin Center, like so many places, have had to limit access to our buildings and avoid face-to-face contact with each other and with our clients in an attempt to avoid infecting others or ourselves. But we are not closed even though our doors may be, for now. Staff are continuing to serve and support all of you from their homes. So you will likely be getting phone calls from your therapists and case managers. Our phone lines are open if you need anything. Bottom line is that we are still here and will be continuing to serve and support you through this challenging time. And, if/when you need anything, please give us a call. Please keep you and your family safe during these challenging times.”
The Clara Martin Center would like to mention how important and valuable the employees are during these unprecedented times. Most staff has transitioned to working remotely; however, there are those staff who cannot work from home, either due to covering the agency’s residential services, covering the phones, or insuring the client care and business functions continue. The heartfelt dedication and commitment that the employees have given to the clients and to the agency is greatly appreciated.
“Words cannot express my gratitude to each and every one of our staff for their can-do spirit, their teamwork, their commitment to ensuring our clients and staff are supported and taken care of, and for taking care of each other during this challenging time. It is this positive spirit that gives me hope that we will come out stronger on the other end of this crisis.”Melanie Gidney, Executive Director