The health and safety of our clients and team members are always our top priority. We at The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale are committed to the rigorous application of CDC recommended practices and common-sense habits to help our team members and clients stay safe and healthy. Our psychology practice is open for business and can offer Telehealth services. If there are any changes to our business practices or hours of operation, updates will be posted here.
Update 3/22/2020: Broward County Mayor Dale V.C. Holness announced that all non-essential businesses in Broward County are to close to further support social distancing. In his speech, Mayor Holness identified what is considered to be essential services, and included mental health care in that list. Nonetheless, we encourage you to utilize telehealth (secure video conferencing) for your therapy sessions. This is the best way to support containment efforts and ensure the virus is not unknowingly transferred. Many people find telehealth to be helpful, convenient, and easy to use. Click here to learn more about our online therapy services.
Update 3/17/2020: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis announced that several businesses are mandated to close effective at 5pm today. He explained that critical businesses such as doctor offices will not be affected. This includes us. Our office isn’t asked to close but we are urged to practice social distancing (6 feet) and good hygiene while remaining open for business which we are already doing (see the precautions we’re taking outlined below).
Update 3/16/2020: New guidelines recommend for those over 60-years-old stay at home and gatherings of 10 people or more be avoided. Our suite is comprised of 4 offices and at max capacity has up to 8 people inside the space at one time. However, our office capacity is typically less than 8 people at one time. We are still open for business and following the procedures outlined below.
Precautions We’re Taking
While we already take many measures to ensure that our office suite is clean and safe for all, we are taking extra precautionary steps during this flu season and with the growing concerns regarding the coronavirus. Here are some best practices which we are following to help keep our clients and team members healthy.
The current scientific consensus is that this virus can be spread within 2 meters (6 feet) if somebody coughs. Otherwise, the droplets fall to the ground and don’t infect you. It’s recommended that crowds be avoided. The CDC recommends all people with underlying health conditions and adults over 60 years of age should maintain a reserve of medication and grocery items and remain home.
Our boutique practice has small amounts of traffic and our waiting room is usually uncrowded. With that, our team members are taking care to keep as much distance as possible from clients and each other. Our therapy rooms are spacious and allow for sessions to take place with 6+ feet of distance between you and your therapist. Also:
- Instead of a handshake, we’ll offer you a friendly nod
- Rather than a hug, we will share a smile
- If you accept a beverage, we will wash our hands before preparing it and place it on a clean surface instead of passing it to you directly
Disinfecting of Surfaces
Every hour, a designated team member will use a disinfectant wipe to cleanse surfaces such as doorknobs, the doorbell, tables, fridge door handles, our cell phones, and elevator buttons. We use a napkin if we need to pick up trash (tissues, empty water bottles) and immediately wash our hands.
Our team members are following the recommended handwashing practices of washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and ask you to do the same. We will wash our hands often. Prior to beginning an in-office therapy session we will use hand sanitizer at the beginning and end of each session and invite you to join us.
Some therapists use their phone to charge credit cards and to capture signatures. If your therapist employs this action for fee collection, she will disinfect the surface of her cell phone before and after obtaining your signature and charging your card.
Our Sick Policy: If You’re Not Feeling Well
We have required that all team members are to remain home if they have any signs of cold or flu symptoms. We are asking that our clients do the same. If you have any cold or flu symptoms, please do not come to the office while ill and for at least seven days after your symptoms subside. We will, of course, waive any cancellation fees due to illness.
We don’t want you to miss your therapy sessions! So please let us know if you’re not feeling well so that we can offer you phone sessions or secure video chat options. Instead of coming for your in-person appointment:
- Call us or reach out via email us to discuss other arrangements
- If you suspect you might have contracted COVID-19, call the COVID-19 Call Center available 24/7 +1 (866) 779-6121 or email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org. Broward residents can call 954-412-7300
- If you or someone else are in crisis please call 911
Telehealth and Phone Sessions
Again, we don’t want you to miss your therapy sessions! We are open for business and are providing either telephone or secure video chat sessions.
To participate in Telehealth, you will need a private space at home, along with a good Internet connection, and a computer or tablet. You will also need to complete some additional paperwork before we exercise the Telehealth option. Ask your therapist to describe your options and provide you with all the necessary consent forms.
Coping & A Little Levity
We understand this is a stressful time. The coronavirus crisis has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Together, we will get through this! As mental health therapists, we’re emphatic about self-care and the use of effective coping skills. Here are our tips to tend to your psychological wellbeing and to be a good neighbor:
Stay Connected. Note that social distancing does not mean isolation. So get outside, call your friends, and check on your family. Relationships, conversations, and love are not canceled. Be a good neighbor and share supplies if you have them — and stop buying more if you have enough! See more on this topic in our blog post, Staying Connected While Social Distancing.
Check the facts. There’s no doubt that we’re inundated with an onslaught of information about the coronavirus from various news reports, social media, and your own family and friends. We recommend the following sources for reliable information:
Keep things in perspective. Remind yourself that most people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms. As the virus spreads, note that this does not necessarily mean that it presents a life-threatening emergency to you or your family. An intense situation doesn’t always warrant an intense response. Instead of buying copious amounts of supplies (taking them away from people who need them most), the best response is a collection of actions as mundane as washing your hands, covering your cough, and not touching your face.
Use your skills. Self-care is important most days, and critical during stressful days. We suggest the following strategies:
- Ensure the foundations are being met: Get adequate sleep, eat nourishing foods, avoid mood-altering substances, engage in joyful movement of your body
- Limit use of technology. Put down your phone and turn off the TV. Engage in pleasurable activities. Sing, play, walk the dog, read.
- Meditate, breathe, and relax the body
- Challenge thinking traps like “jumping to conclusions” and “catastrophizing.” (Read also: How to Cope with Catastrophic Thinking During the Coronavirus Pandemic)
- If you’re experiencing increased stress, check out our post on what to do with symptoms of anxiety and panic
- Participate in therapy! Please don’t forego your therapy appointments during this time. You need to continue to reserve time for yourself
Leave room for fun. Don’t forget to laugh. If you’re working from home, here’s a just-for-fun “Working from Home During a Global Pandemic Bingo Game” by Kimberly Herrington.
We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) updates, and will respond based on the advice of governments (local & federal), public health authorities, and medical professionals. *Updates will be posted at the top of this blog post. We are doing our part to help maintain The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale as a safe and healthy environment and respite for all of our clients and team members. And we are fully equipped to meet your needs via the use of Telehealth services.
“Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing. Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.”Dr. Abdhu Sharkawy
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