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Staying connected in recovery

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City, Odyssey House staff and clients alike have been stepping up, taking on new responsibilities to keep their colleagues and fellow clients safe and healthy.

Outpatient Services Online and In Touch

During daily check-ins with her clients in treatment for substance use disorders at the Odyssey House Outpatient Program in the South Bronx, Maria Tapia, clinical supervisor, and her colleagues noticed high levels of anxiety and isolation among her clients as the concerns about the coronavirus infection and shut down of services grew. Not knowing how long the health crisis would last, the team moved quickly to keep clients connected to their familiar support systems and made themselves available to clients in crisis 24/7 via a telephone hotline (718-860-2994).

When Odyssey House implemented coronavirus containment measures like social distancing and reducing group sizes while continuing to provide essential services to clients, Maria’s role expanded to include virtual care. Though certain services, such as managing the medication-assisted treatment program, remain on-site, the bulk of treatment has transitioned to online and telehealth services.

As clinical supervisor of outpatient services, Maria manages the day-to-day operations of the clinic, ensuring staff is trained properly and safety protocols are being upheld and monitoring daily reports and supplies. But with most of the staff working remotely, and the urgent needs of clients in recovery to stay connected to services, Maria’s role became instrumental in getting the telehealth services up and running.

Working closely with Renas Tili, director of information systems and technology, each staff member was set up with a laptop and cell phone. “IT really came through for us,” she says. “I depend highly on Renas and Tony Chi, IT Administrator, to make sure our telehealth services run smoothly – and it is!”

Teamwork in the trenches

Once the staff had the equipment they needed, Maria’s next step was to get everyone trained. She conducted mock interviews with the staff to identify potential glitches and build their confidence.

According to her supervisor Mary Callahan, Senior Director of Outpatient Services, Maria’s role in assisting the clinical staff with transitioning from face-to-face to telehealth services, and her enthusiasm in doing so, was critical to helping them become comfortable with the technology. “I never doubted it, but this crisis has shown Maria’s dedication to her colleagues and staff,” said Mary.

The effort has paid off – telehealth services are proving to be a hit with the clients. “Our daily numbers are better than we expected,” Mary added. “The clients are really latching onto this as a resource.”

Despite the challenges of working remotely, Maria feels more connected to her colleagues and Odyssey House as a whole. “I feel supported and not at all isolated, and it’s helping me get through this time of need. Feeling connected gives me a boost. We’re all in the trenches together, and it’s important to show the staff that they’re not alone in this.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. Please call us – we can help.
Odyssey House Admissions: 866-888-7880
Outpatient Services: 718-860-2994

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