Editor's note: In an effort to keep the community updated on news about the new coronavirus (COVID-19), articles posted to our website under "Breaking News" are available to everyone for free, whether or not you're a subscriber. We encourage you to support us by subscribing to the Daily Citizen-News or by buying a copy of the newspaper at a local store or newspaper box.
As an essential community health care provider, Highland Rivers Health is currently maintaining services at its nine outpatient clinics, but has instituted a host of infection control procedures at the clinics to protect staff and individuals coming in for services.
Highland Rivers Health provides treatment and recovery services for mental health, addiction and intellectual developmental disabilities in a 12-county region of northwest Georgia that includes Whitfield and Murray counties.
“We work with a vulnerable population that rely on us for services and support, and we have made a very conscious decision to maintain services while putting in place several infection control procedures,” said Highland Rivers Health CEO Melanie Dallas. “The fact is, if you are living with mental health challenges or a substance use disorder, the stress of the current situation could exacerbate these conditions, so we simply will not abandon people who need us during this extraordinary time. At the same time, we are working to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to protect the health of these individuals and our staff to the greatest extent possible.”
Highland Rivers Health has deployed a pop-up window at highlandrivershealth.com to provide up-to-date information about operations and procedures. Currently, the agency wants individuals who may come in for services to be aware of the following (which is also included on the agency website):
• Please do not come into a clinic if you have symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough or shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, or if you have been told by a doctor to self-quarantine at home.
• You may see clinic staff wearing gloves and/or face masks. These staff are not sick but are taking extra precautions to protect themselves. If we experience staff shortages due to illness, your wait time to see a provider may be longer.
• You will need to come into the clinic to check-in, and will be asked questions to determine if you have symptoms or may have been exposed to someone who does. These questions help protect you, our staff and the other individuals who are receiving services.
• You will be asked if you would agree to see a Highland Rivers doctor to prescribe medications using a tele-health video system.
• Once you check in, you will be asked to wait outdoors or in your car. We will send you a text message when your provider is ready to see you. If you have been dropped off and are unable to wait outdoors, please remember to maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others in the waiting room.
• We will not let you run out of your medications. If you need medication refills but are unable to visit your regular clinic, please call the clinic and let us know. We will work with you to make arrangements to ensure you have your medications.
• If you are receiving services through other Highland Rivers programs, please contact your case manager, program lead or program assistant for information about program changes, appointments and medication refills.
Highland Rivers Health has instituted an internal COVID-19 response team that includes the CEO, COO, Chief Medical Officer, the directors of nursing, clinical services, outpatient services and human resources, among others. The team meets via conference call every morning to assess needs throughout the agency, staff absences, service availability, critical supply chain issues, tele-health procedures and more, as the circumstances dictate. Agency leaders have developed a comprehensive but flexible response plan to guide the agency during the pandemic and address emergent issues.
For up-to-date information about the agency’s services and onsite infection control procedures, please visit: highlandrivershealth.com.