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Telehealth services aid mental health patients throughout the pandemic

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - From exercise to therapy sessions, there are a number of ways to maintain your mental health.

But what do you do when the pandemic suddenly takes those resources away? According to Unitypoint Manager of Behavioral Health Services, Alyssa Fruchtenicht, Unitypoint responded with telehealth services.

"So we've been offering both telehealth and telephonic, so telehealth services would be over a video and audio feed," Fruchtenicht said, "we would send a connection link to the patient, they would be able to click on that and get connected to their therapist or prescriber."

Telehealth services are not new to Unitypoint. In fact, Unitypoint started offering virtual appointments back in 2012. But when patient interaction became limited, Fruchtenicht said United Way increased accessibility almost immediately.

"We knew that we wanted there to be continued to be accessed to care we knew continuity of care was vital so we made sure that we ramped up as quickly as we could."

"KWWL" spoke with one patient's caretaker, Dalila Lulic about their feelings towards telehealth. Lulic said her client was initially worried about the pandemic.

"We were scared, like anybody else of the unknown, especially when appointments started getting canceled," Lulic said.

But Unitypoint's telehealth services brought her client relief because help is available at patients' fingertips.

"For us during the pandemic it was a great option because we didn't have to make the physical attempt to go in especially with my client being of an older age with more health problems."

Telehealth appointments can be accessed by phone or computer. To secure each meeting, Fruchtenicht told "KWWL" there are security encryptions in the software to protect patient privacy.

Fruchtenicht said patient response has been positive amongst all ages and hopes telehealth's popularity doesn't end after the pandemic.

To learn more about United Way and Unitypoint's telehealth services, click here.

Alaina Kwan

Morning Reporter

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