OUR RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
As you know, our provincial leadership has recently declared that we are in a state of public health emergency again. That declaration will have consequences for all of us, affecting our physical, social, and emotional well-being. It seems likely that this will be a challenging time for all of us, especially when so many of us are already feeling fatigued with the whole pandemic situation. We hope that all of you will find the resilience to keep moving forward on the path to healthy living through this latest stage of CoVid-19.
The current situation is also affecting the day-to-day operations of Southport Psychology. We are required to follow provincial guidelines, even when those guidelines seem like a bit of a moving target.
At present, we are asking all clients to arrange for online sessions whenever possible. We will be working from home more often ourselves, and in many cases online sessions will be all that we are able to offer. Your psychologist (or Lorri, our Clinic Coordinator) will be happy to help you get set up for an online session. We use a very secure platform for online sessions, and all that is required on your end is a smart phone or laptop/desktop computer, or tablet. Please make sure you have some privacy, strong Internet connection, and give permission for the platform (Doxy) to use your device’s microphone and camera when you are prompted. Many clients now prefer to conduct their sessions online, and we trust that you will find it to be a positive experience, too.
If you and your psychologist agree to meet in person at the practice, please expect that you will be required to wear a mask during your entire visit to the practice (i.e., in the waiting room and during your appointment). We know that some people will still need to come for face-to-face sessions, whether it’s because they don’t have privacy to meet at home, or because they don’t have adequate technology to allow for online meetings. We ask for your ongoing patience with the mask requirements, social distancing, and hand sanitizing that you will be asked to follow while in our practice.
A word or two about vaccination status…
We have not made a practice of asking people about their vaccination status. That may change - as “proof of vaccination” documents become widely available, we may at some point make use of that documentation as part of our overall safety plan. In the meantime, we will proceed with the guidelines listed above, regardless of whether you have received 0, 1 or 2 vaccines.
As members of this practice, we have all chosen to be fully vaccinated ourselves.
We know that there are strong opinions on both sides of the vaccination debate, and we have often heard how people on one side of the debate can’t believe how “stupid” the people on the other side of the debate must be. We don’t find this kind of polarized debate helpful.
When we have discussed this issue as a group, we decided to think of it as an issue of competing values. To put it simply (which it isn’t), we can choose to uphold a value of personal freedom (i.e., no one can tell me what to put in my body) or we can choose to uphold a value of public health and safety (i.e., I’m willing to do my part so others may be protected and we get through this sooner). Both of these values are very important in a healthy society, and the decision about which value to raise above the other in response to a pandemic is very important, difficult and personal. There may even be a way to uphold both values (for example, don’t get vaccinated but then choose to avoid certain activities or events to protect the public good while the virus is still rampant). Our society is trying to wrestle with these important topics right now, and the chance of finding solutions that please everyone is very slim. As we go down this path, though, we hope that we can all find a way to approach our differences with kindness rather than contempt.
Thank you all again for your patience as we adjust our own processes. We look forward to continuing our work with you, one way or another, in the days ahead.
Yours in health,
The Southport Psychology team
To our dear clients,
We hope you are safe and well, and that you have found some creative ways to keep working towards health and contentment during these challenging times. We are grateful for the technology that has allowed us to meet with many of you online over the past couple of months, and want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we worked out the best ways of conducting these sessions.
Today, we are pleased to let you know that we are moving towards opening the practice to some face-to-face visits as of next week (June 01). Each psychologist has identified a couple of days per week when they will be willing to meet with clients at the Southport Psychology office. We have given a lot of thought to how to make that happen while also making sure that everyone’s health and safety are being considered appropriately.
We have developed a plan that we would like to use as we re-open the practice. Please take a moment to read through the following points that outline the plan:
1. No one will be forced to come into the office for a session. If you would prefer to meet with your psychologist online for the time being, we will continue to meet with you that way. In fact, we want to approach this re-opening carefully, and would generally prefer to meet online with you for the time being if that is an option for you.
2. Any clients who come into the office for an appointment will be asked to sign a one-time consent form indicating that they understand and accept the risk associated with coming into the office, and also indicating their willingness to follow the safety plan that we are using.
3. Any clients who come into the office will receive a “Declaration of Health” form by email eight hours before their appointment. This form is basically a checklist that allows you to confirm that you don’t have a fever and that you don’t have any unexplained COVID-type symptoms when you come for your appointment. If there is a question about a fever, you may be asked for a temperature check when you come to the office.
4. Please do not come to the office if you are sick, or if you have travelled outside of the country in the past 14 days, or if you have been exposed to someone with actual or presumed COVID-19 within the past two weeks.
5. Each Southport Psychology staff member will also take and record their temperature at the start of their shift, and also indicate if we have any unexplained COVID-type symptoms, if we have travelled outside of the country recently, or if we have been exposed to someone with actual or presumed COVID-19 within the past two weeks.
6. Please do not come into the office more than 5 minutes before the scheduled starting time of your appointment.
7. Please use the hand sanitizer that is provided by our front door when you enter the office.
8. Please bring some form of mask or face covering when you come to the office for your appointment. You will be asked to wear it while you are in the waiting room. You and your psychologist will make a joint decision about whether you each wear a mask or not during the therapy session.
9. We will have the doors to our practice propped open during business hours so we can all avoid touching door handles, etc. Please enter the office via the main glass doorway by the front desk, using the hand sanitizer as you enter. When you leave, please use the exit by the wooden doorway and please use the hand sanitizer provided by that door when you leave.
10. We have several seating clusters in our waiting room. If you arrive with someone from your own household, you may sit in a seating cluster together. Aside from that, please choose a seat that allows you to maintain at least a two-meter distance from anyone else in the waiting room. We will be regularly cleaning and disinfecting the waiting room area during the day.
11. We will not be engaging in any handshakes or other forms of physical contact while you are at the office. We regret that we won’t be able to provide any beverages while you are at the office. We will also be maintaining at least a two-meter distance in the therapy room.
12. We will be keeping a separate list of every client who attends a face-to-face session for the time being. This will allow the health authorities to track people down if anyone in our space, staff or client, is ever diagnosed with COVID-19. We hope you will appreciate the wisdom in keeping this list. This list will eventually be destroyed if such “contact tracing” is not needed.
This feels like a lot of rules and procedures. We hope that you understand the need for this plan, and even hope that you might take some comfort in it. We do ask for your continued patience and flexibility as we get used to the plan together. We hope to modify and streamline it as we go, especially as the impact of the pandemic continues to let up.
If you have any questions or feedback about this plan, or if you would like to talk about the possibility of setting up a face-to-face appointment, please feel free to contact your psychologist directly via email, or contact our clinic coordinator (Lorri), who would be more than happy to help you. Lorri can be reached at 403-252-4056 or at email@example.com.
We look forward to seeing you again!
Yours in health,
The Southport Psychology team
As we enter another week of physical distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are pleased to let you know that we are still open for business at Southport Psychology.
Following the recommendation of the College of Alberta Psychologists, we are currently offering sessions by phone and via videoconference.
We have adopted the use of the Doxy videoconference platform to allow for simple and secure virtual sessions to take place. Most people have reported that they are pleased with the quality of these meetings in terms of the audio and visual components, but more importantly, in having the sense that the client and clinician are still connected in a meaningful way. Also, we continue to offer a $10 discount per session to clients who schedule sessions via phone or videoconference during this time.
We look forward to things slowly returning to some semblance of “normal” in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, if we can be of help to you or a loved one, please feel free to contact us at 403-252-4056 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you all safety and health!
The Southport Psychology team
The coronavirus pandemic has us all thinking carefully about how to protect our own safety as well as the safety of those around us, while still living our lives in meaningful ways to the greatest extent possible.
As a practice, we have taken a number of steps to make sure that you can continue to receive services at Southport Psychology, but also protecting the health of everyone who comes through our doors, whether they be clients or clinic staff.
We are disinfecting our work surfaces, door handles, payment machines, etc., several times daily. We have also removed pencil crayons, coloring books, and magazines from the waiting room for the time being, and have placed hand sanitizer at various locations in the office.
We are practicing “social distancing” and would ask you to help us in this effort. We have decided not to offer handshakes at the beginning or end of sessions. Naturally, we hope that everyone will cough into their sleeve or a tissue rather than cough into their open hand, and we are trying to maintain a 1-2 meter distance between people, both in and out of sessions. Please also maintain that distance in the waiting room, or if you are at the front desk to rebook an appointment or to make a payment.
If you have any symptoms of cold or flu or if you are expected to be in quarantine for any reason, please do not come to the office. We commit to hold ourselves to the same standard.
We have decided not to charge a late cancellation fee for the next couple of months for people who let us know that they are cancelling a session due to symptoms of cold or flu, or if they have been exposed to someone who is presumed to have COVID-19.
We would also invite you to consider doing your session from home. We are pleased to offer you the option of remote sessions in either audio or video formats. We will offer a $10 discount per session to anyone who uses this option. While these kinds of sessions may not seem ideal, they have still been found by many to be very effective while also maintaining the highest level of personal protection from possible exposure to the coronavirus. If you are interested in setting up a remote session, please email your psychologist directly with as much advance notice as possible, and we will each do our best to accommodate your request.
We will contact our clients directly if the health authorities ask us to close the office, or if any of us fall ill or if we have to self-isolate.
We appreciate your patience with these changes and are very grateful for the thoughtfulness and kindness that many of you have already shown us and each other at the practice. Things will likely continue to change, but we pledge to maintain Southport Psychology as a safe refuge for all of us in the best way we can for as long as possible. Best wishes to everyone in the extended Southport Psychology family as we make our way through these challenging times!
The Southport Psychology team