Saturday, May 18, 2024

UVCares expanding mental healthcare in Upper Valley and beyond

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LEAVENWORTH – UVCares is expanding its reach just in time for the holiday season. Earlier this year, it became the first nonprofit in the state to receive a license to provide chemical dependency counseling through telehealth. It also just hired five new therapists and four chemical dependency counselors to meet growing demand.

“As you see with the holidays approaching, it's such a stressful time that people are reaching out more…So being able to hire new clinicians has been really timely as well, to deal with that influx that's coming,” said Lilah Poltz, UVCares Executive Assistant. 

Poltz returned to 21 messages seeking assistance in the four days she was out over the Thanksgiving holiday. Just recently, they received two separate suicide hotline referrals simultaneously, a teen and an middle-aged adult.

UVCares specializes in providing mental healthcare and substance addiction treatment in ways that overcome the typical barriers that prevent people from seeking treatment, such as accessibility and affordability. Clients pay what they can afford and are able to receive online counseling. 

“We have a saying here that we meet people where they're at geographically and emotionally, and telehealth allows us to do that,” said Becki Subido, UVCares Executive Director. 

It not only grants people more privacy and convenience, but it also provides a larger pool of therapists for the nonprofit to choose from. Subido is able to carefully vet and hire those most qualified for the job. Every therapist must be certified to do cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but many of them also have specialties such as art therapy or drama therapy.

UVCares recently hired a therapist that specializes in elder care, which Subido and Poltz have been seeing a growing need for in the Leavenworth area. According to Subido, this specialty can address the physical adjustments of getting older, as well as the emotional and financial adjustments of retirement. They are also able to provide care to clients in the first and second stages of dementia. 

With telehealth, the clients don’t have to worry about transportation or mobility issues. “They literally just click on that link and they are right into their own exam room, and they just wait. Then the provider comes in, and it's just like as if you were at a clinic,” said Subido.

UVCares is also breaking barriers with substance addiction assessment and treatment. When Subido first approached the Washington State Department of Health about providing this type of care through telehealth, she was rejected a few times. The state reasoned that they had never allowed a nonprofit to do so. “And so my response was, 'Well, I'm not sure why you haven't the past, but why wouldn't you now?’” said Subido. 

They eventually let her do the application, and the nonprofit passed the final inspection in August. UVCares became the first nonprofit in Washington state approved to do telehealth for standard and court-ordered substance use disorder treatment as well as telehealth for gambling addiction.

“Our program is very comprehensive, and it's based on decades of knowledge of what works and what does not work,” said Subido. 

The plan lasts six to twelve months, with a larger focus on mental health than typical chemical dependency programs. The primary care provider, therapists and client work as a team to ensure they meet the client’s goals and adjust if needed. UVCares therapists not only address any comorbidities or trauma that may have led to the addiction, but also help clients rebuild relationships with loved ones.

Those interested in seeking help through UVCares can begin the intake process by calling 509-300-1113. More about UVCares programs can be found at uvcares.org.

 

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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