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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Addiction Treatment Services Turn To Telehealth During COVID-19 Pandemic

Courtesy of Center for Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment organizations are continuing to serve their clients while navigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Agencies are turning to telehealth in order to maintain contact and support for people receiving treatments and figuring out how to keep staff and residential patients safe.

At the Center for Addiction Treatment (CAT), Dr. Deborah Frankowski says all critical services are functioning and the center is open.

"We're committed to serving our residential and medication-assisted treatment and primary care patients. We're trying to honor the social distancing recommendations," Frankowski says.

The center is moving group sessions to larger rooms and staggering meeting times to allow for more distance between patients and, where possible, have residential patients living in single rooms. Meal times have been added so fewer people are congregating and can remain spread out.

"In terms of our primary care patients, we're trying to deal with only urgent needs. If it's something that can be addressed by telephone, we're going to try to do it that way. We are open to seeing new ill patients but not patients for just physicals and routine things so as to minimize the exposure," Frankowski says.

Medication-assisted treatments are being conducted via telehealth. Nurses are calling patients to ensure medications are OK and see if there are new concerns, and counselors and physicians are making follow-up calls.

As for other agencies around the Tri-State offering similar services: "I think for the most part everybody is doing their best to meet the needs of this population," says Frankowski. "Everybody is trying to keep their doors open and (are) continuing to do assessments."

She says CAT and other agencies are screening people before they enter their buildings by asking questions about health and travel and doing temperature checks for anyone coming in for an active infection screening.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.