As we proceed to navigate our way through COVID-19, we want to stress the importance of continuing care for mental health. The ongoing societal and economic disruption will have immediate and lasting impact on mental wellbeing.
According to Mental Health America, since the beginning of the pandemic in February, there have been over 88,000 additional positive depression and anxiety screening results above what was expected. The number of screenings per day in May for anxiety were 370% higher than in January and for depression, the screenings were 394% higher.
Many studies have demonstrated the robust and rapid antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects of ketamine, especially in a treatment-resistant population. Awareness and access to this valuable treatment will be increasingly important as unprecedented stressors increase the rate of depression and suicide in the coming months.
The American Society of Ketamine Physicians has been at the forefront of advocating for patients who have benefited from this forward-leaning therapy. Ketamine therapy is an essential service that cannot be interrupted during this crisis.
To help mitigate the risk consider:
- Screening each patient the evening or morning before arrival to the clinic for recent travel, known exposure to infected individuals, travel, fever, cough, or other symptoms. Recall up to 80% of infected individuals may not have symptoms yet still shed the virus. Each practitioner will use their best judgment based on known information.
- Screening any person who will be accompanying the patient in the office
- Screening each person on arrival for fever, cough, evidence of infection
- Spreading out appointment times in clinic to minimize number of people at any one time
- On arrival all visitors wash their hands or use sanitizer dispensed by office personal
- Providing each patient a new pen, or sanitized pen for paperwork
- Sanitizing rooms and equipment with hospital grade disinfectant wipes after each use, including light switches and door handles
- Patients are encouraged to bring their own blankets, pillows or magazines as these items cannot be supplied
- An appropriate distance will be maintained for those patients and family members in the waiting room if they must accompany patient inside, such as with a minor
- Highly encouraging family members to wait outside or in their car to reduce the number of people in the clinic
- Rescheduling patients with certain health issues or advanced age for their safety
- Postponing patients who are doing well and on maintenance treatments if possible. Each practitioner and patient must perform their own risk/benefit analysis.
- Using telemedicine for therapy and KAP sessions when possible
- Waiving charges for cancellations or missed appointments related to illness
- Transitioning some patients to oral ketamine who are appropriately screened to avoid in office visits. Please refer to our webinars on 03/24/2020 and 11/28/2018 where ASKP discusses oral ketamine dosing, found on this page.
- If a staff member or patient tests positive for COVID-19, quarantine appropriate people, notify those exposed, and possibly shut down clinic with referral of urgent patients to other ketamine providers