Peer Telehealth Championed
Peer Telehealth was championed as the top priority recommendation for Oregon Health Authority by the Oregon Consumer Advisory Council's Tools, Technology and Access Committee. Extensive cumulative research and discussions with leaders in the field led up to a Policy Option Package proposal for Oregon leaders to consider in the Biennial Budget for July 2021 through June 2023. In the Summer of 2019, Medicare expansion afforded peer telehealth for persons with co-occurring mental health and substance use. Work was still needed for Medicaid and Medicare coverage, workforce development, best practices guidelines, etc.
Coronavirus / COVID-19 Pandemic Outbreak >>> PeerGalaxy Calendar & Resource Page Kickoff
Early March, reports of the pandemic spreading in the USA continued.
PeerGalaxy Calendar with telephone and online virtual peer support offerings was launched. On March 17, 2019 the first online event added was the series of daily check-ins 8am Monday-Friday with Mary Jadwisiak / Holding the Hope. Many other offerings followed.
On March 23rd, 2020 Oregon's Governor issued an Executive Order for Shelter-in-Place. A few days later the PeerGalaxy Coronavirus / COVID-19 Specific Resources page is launched.
The pandemic accelerated rapid adoption of telehealth out of necessity regardless of payer or provider type. Kevin Fitts, Laura Rose, and other Oregon advocates championed Peer Telehealth with legislators and health officials as a vital resource.
Laura Rose established Oregon Peer Telehealth Information Network (OPT-IN) as an email list and Facebook Group to share timely information on telehealth including funding announcements, policy and rule changes, technology platforms, webinars, and other relevant items for peer run organizations, peer supporters, champions and allies.
Pivoting Large Events
Large gatherings were prohibited to limit contagion. Peerpocalypse was postponed until July. Meanwhile the long-awaited 2020 Telehealth Conference scheduled in Portland organized by NRTRC (the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center) and TAO (the Telehealth Alliance of Oregon) pivoted to a free online virtual conference with over 1,000 attendees from over 43 states. NRTRC Friday meetings offering insights, guidance and resources on telehealth continued.
PeerGalaxy announced in Portland NBC Affiliate KGW 8 News Story Interview and Article
Kevin Fitts, Executive Director of OMHCA (Oregon Mental Health Consumer Associaton) and Janie Gullickson, Executive Director of MHAAO (Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon) shared about PeerGalaxy in an interview with KGW as part of the news story: 'People are struggling': Oregon mental health groups make call to action during COVID-19 by Galen Ettlin.