By Geremy San Agustin
Jersey City – Two Filipino women have developed an innovative plan to sustain their services for mental health patients and ensure the continued employment of their staff despite the lockdown of New Jersey due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Myla Dizon and Rhodora Dionisio have been running two Psychiatric Partial Care Program Facilities at Morris Plains and Brick for more than 15 years – working together with the underserved people with mental health needs in a supportive and friendly way.
Once word came to shut down New Jersey because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ladies turned a negative situation into a positive one. Their efforts not only kept their workers employed but also continued to be of service to more than 230 patients, both old and new with a new model of care platform Telemedicine. This program brought service to the comforts of their homes.
Calls in the mental health hotline have been noted to have increased by 37% during the pandemic, from April 2019 to April 2020.
I am fortunate enough to work with two ladies as their health insurance advisor for their staff and patients.
On March 18, 2020, I received a call from Rhodora who asked me to join in their new initiative. As part of this service, the principals invested on new electronics needed for the facilities. They also provide breakfast and hot lunch delivered daily, which also help local businesses.
With some telecom knowledge, my role was to create a HIPAA compliant virtual environment for these Residential Healthcare Facilities for case managers to be at service to their current patients as well as new ones.
As early as a week after the shutdown, the case managers from the two facilities began servicing four different homes from their own homes. The employees embraced their new roles.
Drivers became computer operators at their assigned residential homes. In addition to that, new case managers were hired to fulfill the needs of the growing number of patients.
The Community Resource Center in Brick, NJ is where the Filipina business manager continues to manage the day-to-day operations with case managers, doctors, nurses, eight Residential Health Care Facilities, and back office work for the 100 plus patients that currently participate in this Virtual Psychiatric Partial Care Program.
Her counterparts shared a similar workload at the Community Care Behavioral Health in Morris Plains, NJ. Notably, the number of attendees to these services continue to increase.
It was an ambitious idea, but creative. To those who made it a success, I say Mabuhay!