Behavioral Telehealth Q&A with A.D.A.P.T CEO, Perry Smith
Businesses are changing their operating practices and leveraging technology like never before. For some businesses, this is not a new concept.
Perry Smith is the President & CEO of A.D.A.P.T. Inc. Awareness/Diversion Alternative Prevention Training Incorporated is a statewide behavioral health organization that provides addiction, mental health, and reduction in incarceration programs. They operate in seven cities within North Dakota and provide outreach to rural communities and adjoining states. They have had the ability to provide their services through a web-based state and federal platform for five years.
GNDC sat down virtually with Smith to discuss how his organization has further utilized their technology advantage but shifted to meet ongoing client needs.
GNDC: For those who are not familiar with A.D.A.P.T. Inc., please tell me about what you do.
Smith: A.D.A.P.T Incorporated was developed in the early 2000s. I saw a lot of gaps in services in the Bismarck and other surrounding areas in North Dakota. Those gaps were for people who needed mental health services, addiction services or who were incarcerated or who are pending incarceration. They needed case management assistance both in navigating the systems and in making cognitive changes. We provide these services that help our clients make these positive healthy lifestyle changes. Clients come to us as we are on vendor lists with numerous facilities in North Dakota including clerks of courts, prosecuting and defense attorneys, probation departments, other mental health facilities, and all human service centers.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges in providing services?
An advantage for A.D.A.P.T. is we have had the web-based option available for clients for almost five years. Our experience with providing services in this manner has made the transition to operating during the pandemic a little easier/safer for our staff, but most importantly, for our clients we serve. We are seeing challenges too. The court system is nearly shut down. There are a few judgments that require people to participate in the court-ordered services we provide. That has created a bottleneck in the continuum of service. At this point, no staff has been laid off, but we have reduced some hours. We need to stay at a full staffing pattern as this pandemic continues to linger on due to the increased Drug Usage Misuse/Abuse, increased Mental Health crisis’ and increased calls for services from jails and prisons.
Would a shelter-in-place order have impacted you?
It would not have affected us much at all, because we can provide 90% of our services through our web-based programs. We can take credit card payments over the phone. Face-to-face meetings can still be held online. The only issue that we do have is when we need to do a physical “hook up” for our electronic monitoring (tracking bracelets) clients. This is not something that can be done online. We use PPE to do this wash hands before and after this type of contact with our clients.
Have you implemented new safety measures for employees who have in-person contact with clients?
Yes, we have implemented recommendations and do have situations that require in-person contact. We are practicing the six-foot distancing. We do not shake hands. Our offices are set up so that when clients come in there safe distancing during meetings. We have hand sanitizer for employees and clients to use. I do not always require masks or gloves, but some of our staff choose to use them. We are hooking up tracking bracelets [in person]. Employees use safety measures in face-to-face meetings to physically attach the unit to people. This service allows people to be at home, working and taking care of themselves, their families, working in lieu of being incarcerated. Low-risk violence is screened by the courts prior to authorizing a client to be released to our agency on our GPS or alcohol monitoring systems.