In light of the recent COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, I wanted to let you know that your safety is our top priority at Polaris. We have spoken with many clients regarding their fears about this evolving situation and I would like to personally share with you what we are doing to address your concerns.
We are closely monitoring the recommendations of government health agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and local health organizations, and have employed additional cleaning and sanitation protocol at our offices. Here are some examples of what we are doing:
1. Hand sanitizer will be available for clients to use in each therapy office at all locations (due to the high demand for this product, we don’t expect our next shipment to arrive until March 20th)
2. All therapy offices and waiting area surfaces and door handles will be cleaned with Lysol disinfecting wipes between sessions and at the end of each day.
3. We are asking clients and counselors to not shake hands (a simple wave and a smile will work!)
4. We are encouraging clients to not cluster in the waiting area. You have the option to wait in the lobby, hallway or in your car to avoid exposure to other clients. Speak to your counselor to discuss details.
5. We are asking clients and counselors to stay home if they are symptomatic (cough, runny nose, fever, body aches etc.) and/or have been exposed to someone who is symptomatic within the last 7 days.
6. We will respectfully ask any client to reschedule their session if they show up to the office symptomatic.
In the worse case scenario event that the COVID-19 Coronavirus begins to actively spread in the western suburbs of Chicago and/or the local, state or federal authorities implement a mandatory lockdown/shelter in place order, we will be offering alternate treatment options.
1. Phone sessions – 45 or 60 minute appointments.
2. Telehealth sessions – 45 or 60 minute appointments.
The major insurance companies have expanded coverage for telehealth and phone sessions for their members due to this crisis. However, this may depend on your insurance and your individual policy. You will need to:
(i) contact the member services number on the back of your insurance card to ask if you have coverage for telehealth mental health and phone sessions.
(ii) speak to your counselor to see if they offer this service. This may vary from counselor to counselor.
Although phone and telehealth sessions are an acceptable alternative to in-office outpatient treatment in an emergency situation, this is not an ideal way for most clients to maximize the benefits of counseling and will only be available in the event of a significant escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus in our community and/or a mandatory lockdown/shelter in place order. If this happens, we encourage you to speak with your counselor and develop a plan to ensure that you have ongoing access to treatment. With the increased anxiety and stress that COVID-19 brings, it is more important than ever to get the emotional support you need. For now, we are working with clients on a one-on-one basis (CDC recommends no more than 10 people), sanitizing the office space and maintaining the recommended 6 foot distance between client and counselor throughout the session.
Undoubtedly, there will be challenging days ahead. However, we are resilient and resourceful, and we will all get through this together. You are not alone, we are here to help.