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COVID-19 & CHange, INc.            

Because COVID-19 (Corona Virus) is an ongoing situation, all of our collective updates are listed here. Please contact us at contact@changeincorporated.org with questions.

Most Recent Updates

  • Update 9 on 6/19/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  Change, Inc. is currently planning for a 7/12/20 partial in-person re-opening and provides a list of the counselors who are and are not coming back, plus provides the details of plans to follow applicable safety guidelines.

     

  • Update 8 on 6/15/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary: 
     Change, Inc. is currently planning for a 7/12/20 partial in-person re-opening.  Full details coming on Friday, 6/19/20. 
  • Update 7 on 5/18/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  
    St. Louis City re-opened for business on Monday, 5/19/20.  Change, Inc. will wait until 6/15/20 to discuss a return to complete in-person/on-site work.  Rationale explained.

     

  • Update 6 on 4/16/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  
    The increase in video conferencing use across all industries due to COVID-19 has lead to a fresh awareness of digital security issues.  As an organization that has utilized  HIPAA-compliant telehealth video conferencing since its inception, Change, Inc. responds with its own perspective.

     

  • Update 5 on 3/30/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  With the quarantine in effect, STL has begun to hunker down into a fuller picture of things.  On 3/29/20, the Mayor’s office announced closing of some more parks and bus routes.  Change, Inc. adds three more therapists to the exclusively online team for now.  See the list by clicking the link to the full email!

 

  • Update 4 on 3/21/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page have issued a Stay at Home Order (STL-SHO) in effect through 4/22/20 to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in the area.  Change, Inc. is exempt from this order because of its status as a frontline mental health provider.  However, in order to balance our felt individual psychological and socio-cultural emotional responsibilities with our our responsibility to act wisely in light of risk, we did place two additional therapists exclusively online.  See the list by clicking the link to the full email!
  • Update 3 on 3/19/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  As a part of our effort to continue to be responsive to both clients and staff, Change, Inc. offered our counselors the opportunity to begin seeing clients exclusively through Online Video Chat.  The list of counselors is available by clicking the link to the full email!
  • Update 2 on 3/17/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  On Monday, 3/16, the White House announced that people were urged to continue social distance, and to only attend gatherings with 10 people or less.  Change, Inc. demonstrated the ways it met the required thresholds.
  • Update 1 on 3/12/20 (click link for full email update):
    Summary:  Change, Inc. breaches the topic of COVID-19 with clients, and advises it is waiting to comply with updates as they come.

 

Specific Measures We’re Taking To Protect & Serve Clients During COVID-19


Existing Measures
(items that were in place already prior to COVID-19 and currently still in-place):

  • We have 2 locations, and each location has 4 therapy offices. Generally speaking, we keep a minimum of 1 of 4 spaces open per day to create margin for make-ups and not tax our facilities too heavily.  This means that the maximum number of persons in our buildings is normally 6-8 persons (well-beneath the required maximum of 10).  This does not account for therapists who may be off on vacation or clients who may cancel or reschedule, leaving even less people in the building at any given time.
  • Our office spaces allow for seating that is 6 feet apart.
  • Change, Inc. offers both a sliding scale and reduced fee and/or pro bono sessions.  

Measures Enacted During COVID-19 Off-Site/Telehealth Work Period (also still currently in-place):

  • In response to COVID-19, we want to be even more pro-active about getting folks the help they need at a cost they can afford.  If you are a current client and have suffered a financial impact due to COVID-19 and would like us to consider reducing your counseling fees, please fill out our COVID-19 Financial Impact Questionnaire (COVID-FIQ)!  We will endeavor to get back with you about it 3 business days. (NOTE: If you’re a new client, please complete the entire sign-up process first.)
  • Many of our therapists are now online only, meaning that our therapy spaces will now have even less people in them on a daily basis than before.
  • We are cleaning door knobs and commonly touched areas thoroughly and repeatedly throughout the day.
  • We are cleaning the entire office space twice as often as normal.

New Additional Measures Being Enacted During Return to In-Person Work (effective 7/12/20):

 

  • Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned:  Change, Inc. has partnered with SERVPRO, an organization which has specialized in the containing and cleaning of biological contaminants since its inception in 1967.  Using their Certified SERVPRO Defensive Pathogen Cleaning Program, their experts perform a proactive cleanup that involves facility or structure cleaning and disinfection using Concrobium, the commercial industry standard in killing Coronavirus.  This includes but not limited to the following specific tasks:
    • Fogging of vent covers, air ducts, and ventilation system
    • Cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables Cleaning of porous and non-porous surfaces
    • Disinfecting of non-porous surfaces
    • Cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, tools, and/or supplies used for cleanup process, and disposal of waste
  • Office seating in our waiting rooms has been reduced by 20-30%,  but we are also asking clients to please wait in vehicles or outside until no earlier than 5 minutes before appointment times.
  • Clients and counselors are asked to wear facemasks.  Face masks will be provided if you forgot your own. 
  • Hand sanitizer is available in common areas.
  • All social distancing measures recommended by local, state, and federal guidelines will be followed.

 

Frequently ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)  

Change, Inc. and COVID-19 (Corona Virus): Consistent, Responsible, Thorough, Ethical, Multi-Faceted, Transparent

Change, Inc. is:

  • Compliant with current, credible risk assessments from the CDC as well federal, state, and local directives;
  • Concerned about our clients’ needs and with maintaining the highest standards of clinical effectiveness in helping them with both COVID-19-related psychological concerns and whatever initial/presenting problems may have otherwise brought them to counseling;
  • Accountable in a greater social justice sense to being effective in combatting psychologically counter-productive responses to the fear and panic associated with COVID-19 on both an individual micro-level (with clients) and mezzo and macro-levels (collective/sociocultural) by not just what we say, but what we do (including our decisions about whether, when, and how to dis/continue in-person sessions);
  • As a fact woven into the existing fabric of Change, Inc. culture, responsive and supportive to the needs of our counselors during this difficult time frame, conceding that some degree of fear and conflict is appropriate;  

Summary:

Our process involves following the best risk assessments/directives available while also balancing our obligations and convictions regarding providing mental health care on the front lines during a time of national crisis, overlaid with an emphasis on the ways our counselors and clients must be provided room to grapple with their own sense of risk. 

Is Change, Inc. currently seeing clients for in-person sessions?

Yes.  As a SOH-exempt mental healthcare practice, a small handful of our counselors continued to see clients in-person in our by definition, socially-distant and low-foot-traffic environments, while the vast majority switched to exclusively online sessions.  

As of 7/12/20, the following counselors will return to in-person work:

  • Stacy Blassingame
  • Sarah Evergreen
  • Jordan Ferguson
  • Rachel Hagan
  • Leah Polk
  • Zach Polk
  • Lauren Thayer

Appointments occurring with these counselors on or after Monday, 7/12/20, will take place in-person.   If your counselor’s name is not listed, your sessions will continue online and we will check in again with you in mid to late July 2020.

How does Change, Inc. manage the number of people in its physical spaces?

We have 2 locations, and each location has 4 therapy offices.  Generally speaking, we keep a minimum of 1 of 4 spaces open per day to create margin for make-ups and not tax our facilities too heavily (existing intentional policy), which means that the maximum number of persons in our buildings is normally 6-8.  Currently, with nearly all of our counselors performing online sessions only, that number is reduced to 2-4 people in a building at any given time, interacting in dyads (1 on 1) or triads (1 on 2, as with couples therapy).  This does not account for therapists who may be off on vacation or clients who may cancel or reschedule, leaving even less people in the building at any given time.

When will Change, Inc. return all of its clinicians to in-person/on-site counseling?

We don’t currently know!   To make our decisions, we review federal (CDC), state, and local directives and guidelines, as well as do our best to understand national and international trends like the rest of the public. We are also dialoguing with our consultants, coaches, and colleagues from within our discipline and without.  It’s difficult to make aggregate sense of so much data, let alone when the data and surrounding opinions are at times confusing, conflicting, and/or accompanied by politicization.

But we’re going to begin a discussion about a return to in-person/on-site counseling on or before 6/15/20.

Is Change, Inc, offering free or discounted sessions?

Yes!   As a matter of existing protocol, Change, Inc. offers both a sliding scale and reduced fee and/or pro bono sessions.   However, in response to COVID-19, we want to be even more pro-active about getting folks the help they need at a cost they can afford.  If you have already signed up for counseling with us, and have suffered a financial impact due to COVID-19 and would like us to consider reducing your counseling fees, please fill out our COVID-19 Financial Impact Questionnaire (COVID-FIQ)!  We will endeavor to get back with you about it within 3 business days.  (If you’re not yet a client, we’ll ask you to please go through our normal sign-up process by calling/emailing/using the website contact form, at which time you can mention your interest in COVID-19-related financial considerations.)

Should I come to in-person sessions?

If you are feeling ill or have recently been sick, or are just too uncomfortable to come in, don’t give up on your journey, but do please stay home and use our easy 1-Step Process to see your therapist online.  Just head to the Virtual Waiting Room on the day and time of your appointment, and click your therapist’s picture.  No problem!

How do online sessions work?

At Change, Inc., Online Counseling literally involves only one step!  ????????????

  • At the time of your appointment, just go to our Virtual Waiting Room and click your counselor’s picture!  If for some reason there are connectivity issues, your counselor will call/email you and switch to a different video chat method.  And by all means, call or email or Client Liaison Team if you need help during their office hours!
Is online counseling the same as in-person counseling?

No, it is not.  While academicians and researchers may want to carve away at the joints of the science of psychotherapy, trying to understand which techniques and interventions are most successful for particular “disorders,” we believe that the most important factor in determining success in therapy is what is known as the therapeutic alliance (Lynch, 2012), defined by Teyber &
 Teyber (2011) as a partnership where both counselor and client agree on shared goals, work together on tasks designed to bring a positive outcome, and establish a relationship built on trust, acceptance, and empathy.  (Ironically, research actually indicates that this is the most critical thing in therapy too!)  So, in other words, we believe there really is something to sitting in a room with a person you can trust, and feeling what it is like to be with them in that space.

A Better Question:

Whether or not in-person and online therapy are the same isn’t really the question — what’s important is this related follow-up:  Is Online Counseling Effective?

The answer is yes, overwhelmingly, the research indicates that it is effective Over and over again.  We can keep going Really!

If you want to read more about Online Counseling in-general, click here!

What is Change, Inc.'s Position on Telehealth Security Concerns?
The notion of digital (in)security is quite an old topic, but will be talked about much more frequently in the media for some time, likely in ways that are distressing or present old facts as though they are new. 
Change, Inc. strongly desires to validate and hold clients’ understandable feelings of anxiety and be responsive to cultural trends requiring accountability from organizations who provide digital conferencing concerns.  If clients have a particular concerns about a particular piece of software, we are willing and able to be responsive and use something different.  For example, if someone has concerns about Zoom, we can use Doxy.me. 
While we are tuned into software security patches, fixes, and general best practices, we are also not neglecting the pre-COVID-19 reality of digital insecurity, which means we are also asking clients to be aware of the ways in which the intensity they may be feeling about this sort of thing is informed by their desire to find a locus of control in a time period where that’s not really possible, sort of like the discomfort we might feel when flying in an airplane or otherwise not really being in control.  
How is Change, Inc. making decisions regarding the provision of telehealth services in light of COVID-19?

It is our current clinical judgment that there is a degree of reasonable flexibility being afforded mental health (and all healthcare) providers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforcement of all applicable laws surrounding telehealth, consistent with trends that existed prior which were decreasing restrictions and increasing availability and options.  Change, Inc. plans to utilize this increase in flexibility to maximize our ability to see any clients requesting mental health services during/related to COVID-19.  We believe any forensic review of our current telehealth practices is likely to be met with a flexible, contextualized response.

Here is a .pdf which outlines the state and federal actions/statutes which we are considering day by day, week by week, to inform our approach.

I file for out-of-network reimbursement using the mental health benefits of my insurance policy. Will they reimburse for telehealth?
In response to COVID-19, insurance companies are paying for online counseling by video (& often by telephone) and some are eliminating copays, deductibles, and other forms of cost-sharing which may or may not impact Change, Inc.’ s clients who file for out-of-network reimbursement (How does that work at Change, Inc.?).
Please contact your insurer directly to ask what they’re doing to help you with out-of-network reimbursement for mental health benefits re: COVID-19.
NOTE: Here’s a complete list of how insurance companies are responding, provided by AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans, an American political advocacy/trade association of health insurance companies).

ST. LOUIS COunseling Locations

Change, Inc. South Kingshighway:

5859 S. Kingshighway Boulevard

St. Louis, MO 63109

Change, Inc. South Hampton & 44:

3460 Hampton Avenue, Suite 204

St. Louis, MO 63139 

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PHONE/EMAIL HOURS:

WEEKDAYS: 9a to 5p

Contacts received before 3pm:

  • returned the same business day

Contacts received after 3pm or on the weekends:

  • returned the next business day

314-669-6242 / 877-5-CHANGE (524-2643)

contact@changeincorporated.org

COUNSELING HOURS

EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK:

10am to 9pm