Health and Safety Information for in-person sessions 

Beginning on August 15,2020 our office will begin to offer in-person sessions as an option for treatment. Telehealth will continue to be available to all clients. In consideration for the health and safety of our clients as well as our clinical staff, we are taking several measures to mitigate the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the message below for more information about the specific precautions we are taking as a practice. 


Important information with regards to Telehealth and availability for in-person sessions 



 Telehealth, in conjunction with in-office visits, will be utilized as part of the typical course of treatment for the foreseeable future. 
For now, it appears that insurers plan to continue to cover Telehealth sessions so this can be utilized either as a sole means of treatment, or in conjunction with in-office visits. If at any point insurers decide to no longer cover Telehealth, we will notify you in advance and adjust treatment plans accordingly. 
You have the option to continue treatment solely through Telehealth until you feel comfortable resuming in-office visits. You are under no obligation to come into the office, your safety and comfort are paramount and we understand that treatment is only effective when you have both. 
Please be aware that even if you opt in for in-office visits, you will still have at least some sessions via Telehealth until further notice (most likely, until an effective treatment or vaccine is available). As a means of limiting the number of people visiting the office in order to do our part in helping to limit the potential for exposure to the virus, we will ask for all clients’ cooperation in having both in-person and Telehealth sessions. Again, please keep in mind that no one will be required to resume in-person treatment. It is only an option and Telehealth will remain the primary platform for treatment. 
Transitioning from Telehealth to in-office visits will be a gradual progression, meaning that if you opt for in-office visits you will be allowed to start with one or two in-office visits per month, working up to as many as three to four while maintaining at least one telehealth session per month. 

We will begin offering in-person sessions on August 15, with limited capacity. Prior to the pandemic our practice was operating out of three therapy rooms. However, due to the size limitations that render appropriate social distancing in one of our offices impossible; as well as the much higher demand for Telehealth we have one therapy room available for the remainder of 2020. We anticipate opening a second therapy room in 2021, when we believe more clients will feel more comfortable in resuming in-person sessions.

Each therapist will see clients for only one day per week in the remaining therapy room, please contact your therapist to find out which day they will be available and to discuss scheduling needs. We ask you to also be aware that while each therapist is given the option for one day per week for in-person sessions, the therapist may not yet be ready to offer in-person sessions. Please reach out to your therapist and confirm prior to your appointment as to whether or not you will see the therapist at the office or via Telehealth.  Again, please keep in mind that resuming in-person sessions will be a gradual process in order to allow for adequate time for therapists to perform sanitation protocols and to accommodate both Telehealth and in-person sessions.  

At this time, we will only be able to accommodate individual and couple clients for in-person sessions. Families of three or more will need to continue treatment via Telehealth until at least the end of this year. 





Measures taken by our practice, suite landlord, and building management to ensure the health and safety of our clients and therapists 



Self-Certifying symptoms and compliance prior to each in-person session:
Ruling out symptoms and risk factors: We will ask that all clients, prior to each in-person appointment, certify that they do not have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and have not traveled to an area with a high rate of transmission within two weeks of a scheduled in-person session. Clients who either confirm having symptoms or recent travel will be required to only participate in treatment via Telehealth until all symptoms have resolved, or it has been a minimum of 14 days since their last date of travel.  This checklist will include the following: 

  • I have not traveled to an area with a high rate of transmission within the last 14 days and am in compliance with state laws regarding travel to restricted areas and quarantine. 
  • I have not been in close contact with another person who has or is suspected to have COVID-19 
  • I do not have any risk factors that are considered to make me or someone in my household especially vulnerable to COVID-19. 
  • I am not currently experiencing any of the somatic symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including: 
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Chills
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches 
    • Headache
    • Congestion or runny nose 
    • Gastrointestinal distress (may include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)  
    • Sore throat 


We will ask that all clients only schedule in-person sessions if they can certify their compliance in the following: 

  • I have been in compliance with all guidance regarding the appropriate use of PPE when outside of my home set forth by the CDC, NYC, and NYS government officials. Specifically, I wear a face covering at all times when outside of my home, especially in public places. 
  • If I have had exposure to someone with a known case of COVID-19, I will notify the appropriate authorities and will not attend in-office sessions until I have been tested for COVID-19 and can certify a negative result. 
  • I will notify my therapist if I contract COVID-19 so that the practice can comply with best practices in notifying the appropriate authorities and alerting anyone else within the office who may have been exposed. 


 
Face coverings: Clients must wear a face covering at all times while on site. We will provide clients with a face shield while in the therapy room. 
In compliance with CDC guidelines and New York State directives, we will require every client and therapist to wear a face covering at all times. In order to also be able to provide effective psychotherapy, our protocol will also include clear face shields provided by the practice to each client for the session, and sanitized between each session.

Please be aware that a face covering must be worn at all times while in the building. We ask that all clients coming to the office also wear a mask and utilize other forms of PPE outside of the office, especially if using mass transit. We ask that any client who is unwilling or unable to strictly adhere to wearing a face mask please refrain from in-person sessions, out of consideration for the health and safety of our staff and other clients. 

A therapist will provide each client with a face shield that has been sanitized once inside the therapy room. Once the face shield is in place, the client is permitted to remove their personal face covering. The client’s personal face covering must be replaced before removing the face shield. Face shields will be disinfected between each session, and placed on the couch to avoid unnecessary contact between the therapist and client. We ask that clients return the face shield to the couch after the session so that it can be sanitized before the next session. 


Therapy room protocols for social distancing: 
Therapist will ask the front desk staff to allow clients to enter the suite, if a front desk person is not available the therapist will open the door for clients to prevent the client from unnecessarily touching the door handle. We ask that you please do not attempt to touch the therapist, including refraining from hand shaking or any other form of physical contact.  If you do need to touch the door or any other handles, we ask that you please wear gloves and/or carry hand sanitizer to mitigate unnecessary exposure. 


We ask that you please maintain a minimum of six feet of distance between you and the therapist at all times, including walking to and from the therapy room. 
Upon arrival at the therapy room, clients will enter and the therapist will follow once clients are seated on the therapy couch. We will arrange the therapy room to allow for six feet of distance between the therapist and clients. 

 
Therapy room disinfecting protocols: 
Therapy rooms will be disinfected with an aerosol spray that can eliminate 99% of airborne bacteria before and after each session. This is to mitigate the potential for transmitting the virus through airborne pathogens. Additionally, each therapist will perform the following measures: 

  • All surfaces will be disinfected in the therapy room between each session.
  • The couch inside of the therapy room will be disinfected with an antibacterial spray intended specifically for upholstered furniture. 
  • Face shields will be disinfected between each session. 
  • Therapists will allow for 30 minute gaps between appointments to allow for adequate time to implement sanitization protocols. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in the therapy room, clients are highly encouraged to utilize available hand sanitizer before and after each session. 


 
Protocols implemented by our suite landlords and building management: 
Clients entering the building will still be required to check in with the security guard, which will require an appropriate form of ID. We recommend wearing gloves or using hand sanitizer to mitigate the chances for exposure during this screening. You may be required to comply with a temperature or other form of screening, as required by the building or our suite landlords. To find out more information about these specific protocols please use this link: https://selectofficesuites.com/covid-19-safety-measures/ 

 
Other precautions and steps taken by our practice and landlords: 

  • Plexiglass dividers will be in place inside of the therapy room as well as in the waiting area of the third floor and at the security check-in counter in the lobby of the building. 
  • Social distancing will be enforced at all times throughout the building
  • Elevator capacity will be limited to 1-2 people per car
  • A minimum of six feet of distance should be maintained in the waiting areas, even if a front desk staff person is not present to enforce this rule 
  • Air filtration: We have been advised that both building and suite management have taken specific actions to increase the air filtration and sanitization to help mitigate the potential for exposure to the virus while on site, including installation of HEPA filters and disinfecting the HVAC systems. For more specific information please see the link above as well as the attached PDF memo. 
  • Surface disinfecting: Per the information provided to us, building and suite management have stated use of an Electrostatic Disinfecting System which has been shown to have high efficacy in eradicating pathogens on surfaces. Please review both the website link and attached PDF for more specific information as to the timing and frequency of disinfecting protocols.