The Times Union interviewed Jason Kirby, DO, medical director for addiction and recovery services at St. Peter’s Health Partners, for its story on the increased number of drug overdoses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Kirby discussed the challenges posed by the pandemic, particularly when it comes to providing treatment for those struggling with addiction.
From the article:
MAT check-ups and group counseling that would normally be conducted in person were moved to online platforms, which had the immediate effect of reducing no-shows, said Dr. Jason Kirby, medical director for addiction and recovery services at St. Peter’s Health Partners in Albany.
These were major wins for people who lack transportation or live far from services, he said.
“If folks live 40 miles away from our nearest outpatient site it’s not realistic for them to come three times a week to engage in programming,” he said. “But through telemedicine we’re able to connect those folks for the first time.”
“But what we’ve found is even though the compliance rate to follow up was high, unfortunately, the disconnection that followed was substantial,” he said.
It’s harder for providers to detect someone’s in relapse when interacting virtually, Kirby said.
“There’s nothing like seeing a person face-to-face to actually gauge their stability,” he said. “There’s a lot you can find out about a person and how stable they are just by talking to them for five minutes.”
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