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Green Hills with Blue Sky

Changes for Existing Clients as a Result of COVID-19

To My Clients:

As a result of the intensification of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (i) in line with urgent State and national health recommendations to minimize face-to-face contact, (ii) in the interests of protecting you, my clients, and myself, as well as (iii) to contribute to collective efforts to minimize transmission of the virus, I have suspended face-to-face visits for the indefinite future.  I am offering remote electronic visits as an alternative (details below). 

I am sorry, of course, for the impact of this on you; I hope, though, that under the circumstances you understand the prudence of this change.  On a positive note, initial clients have been quite satisfied with remote voice-and-video sessions.

Remote Session Options

I have implemented the following options for electronic voice-and-video (or voice-only) visits:

  1. Doxy.me
    Doxy.me offers secure, encrypted, "HIPAA-compliant" voice-and-video communication for computer and smartphone.  It is simple to use: You click on an email link that I send you at the time of the session.  This is the format I recommend trying first.  (For more information, its website is doxy.me.) 
  2. Signal Messenger
    Several clients (perhaps especially on older iphones?) have not been able to get doxy.me to work on their phones (specifically, to access the phone camera).  Signal Messenger is an alternative app for voice-only and voice-and-video communication via cellphone.  Though it has not been identified as “HIPAA-compliant,” it is a highly recommended, free, private/encrypted method for secure voice-only and voice-and-video communication.  (For more information, its website is signal.org.)  To use this format, download the Signal Messenger app.  (Feel free to call me if you need help with this.)
  3. Standard phone call or Facetime (most familiar, but NOT recommended)
    Standard communication via cellphone entails risk of interception such that an unknown third party could listen in on the conversation, and is not encrypted.  Signal Messenger (option 2) is virtually identical in functionality, and is secure/encrypted.

Please consider whether you would like to participate in remote sessions by one of the above methods going forward.  If so, I will email you (via new secure email that I have established) 2 consent forms: one for email contact, and one for remote sessions.  You will be able to sign these electronically and then return them to me.  These consent forms contain further information about the electronic formats.  Feel free to call me (608-271-8799) with any questions or problems.

If you are paying for therapy out of pocket, there is no change in payment, other than that I would ask you to pay by check sent to my office address (Gerald Greenfield, Ph.D., 6409 Odana Road, #23, Madison, WI 53719).

Health Insurance and Remote Electronic/Teletherapy

I recently was informed by the Wisconsin Psychological Association that the following insurance companies “have confirmed the general acceptability to bill TMH (tele-mental-health) services”: Aetna, Anthem (BCBS), Humana, Medicare, UMR, United (I assume United Healthcare), and WEA.  And as WPA says, “We anticipate continuing to update this list” – though it already covers most if not all insurance companies that my clients use.  Some details of this are yet to be determined.  As always, you are ultimately responsible for charges for sessions.  For those wanting additional assurance/detail regarding insurance reimbursement, I suggest you call your insurance company’s 800 number to get (pre-)authorization for such sessions.

Also:

I realize there is lots of information here.  Please don’t hesitate to call (608-271-8799) if you have any questions about any of it, or other related matters.  I would like to do whatever I reasonably can to continue to provide services and support to you during this crisis.

The COVID-19 outbreak is, of course, extremely stressful for everyone.  Here are a few gentle suggestions, for any who would like some:

  1. Focus on what you can do to protect yourself and loved ones, consistent with health expert recommendations (wash hands a lot, keep social distance, etc.);
    1. If you are worried about your health or that you may have symptoms of COVID-19, UW Health has an informational hotline: (608) 720-5300, open 8am-11pm, Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat-Sun.  That website is: https://www.uwhealth.org/covid-19/covid-19/53246;
  2. If you are worrying to a problematic degree, (a) try to recognize that the worry, even though it’s natural, is unproductive, (b) label it as "unhelpful worry", and (c) gently shift attention to other/more positive/productive things.  (You may have to do this repeatedly: That's fine! - and probably much better than uninterrupted worrying);  
  3. Stay connected – if “virtually” – to family and friends;
  4. Get exercise and good sleep as you can; and
  5. “Breathe” – take deep breaths and try to calm yourself and your body despite the external challenges.  A specific breathing exercise I recently saw for practicing control and concentration is “Breathe 4 Calm” (original source unknown to me) – do each step for a count of 4:
    1. Breathe In  2  3  4
    2. Pause 2  3  4
    3. Breathe Out  2  3  4
    4. Pause  2  3  4
    5. Breathe In  2  3  4
    6. Be Still  2  3  4
    7. Breathe Out  2  3  4
    8. Be Still  2  3  4
    9. Repeat…

Sending wishes that you stay well.

Gerry Greenfield, Ph.D.

March 29, 2020