Metrocare, the largest provider of mental and behavioral healthcare in North Texas, applauded new guidance issued over the weekend by the Texas Medical Board (TMB).
After Gov. Greg Abbott’s state disaster declaration Friday, TMB instituted new protocols that allow licensed Texas physicians and permit holders to provide telephone consultation or telehealth to their patients.
TMB made the decision so patients could receive or maintain medical care during the current COVID-19 threat.
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The guidelines allow enhanced utilization of telehealth for diagnosis, treatment, ordering of tests and prescribing for all conditions.
“This is an important decision,” said John W. Burruss, CEO of Metrocare. “Because right now, patients need therapy and assistance more than ever. We began preparing for this change two weeks ago. In my mind, this could be a life-saving regulatory decision, and TMB moved quickly and decisively on the issue.”
Metrocare provides an array of mental health and developmental disability services for Dallas County residents, serving over 18,000 people every month.
In addition to providing for the uninsured, Metrocare is one of the few mental and behavioral health providers that offers services to Medicaid patients and those who are underinsured.
Metrocare’s clinics will remain open, but some may change operating hours and staffing levels as the clinicians work remotely to provide telehealth services.
Providers will also continue limited home visits in some situations, such as patients with special needs.
Metrocare will also provide prescription refills via telephone interviews or counseling sessions.
“We are also taking steps to keep our employees safe in this difficult time,” Burruss said. “We are screening patients in-clinic and by phone to ensure they are not symptomatic of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, we have stepped up deep-cleaning of our facilities and offices while also following the CDC and Health Department guidelines encouraging workers to be ‘socially-distant’ from patients and the general public.”
Dallas County residents experiencing anxiety, fear and/or depression because of the rapid succession of changes to their daily lives can call 214-743-1215 during business hours Monday through Friday. Metrocare professionals will be available to assist individuals in accessing mental health services and provide referrals for other resources that may be needed.