Ohio health officials address mental health during COVID-19 pandemic; also propose suspending elective surgeries

Published: Mar. 14, 2020 at 3:15 PM EDT
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Mental health leaders in Ohio are addressing challenges that can come during a health crisis.

During a press conference Saturday, Lori Criss, the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health addressed supporting Ohio's behavioral health system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Pay attention to signs of stress and anxiety," said Criss. "If you are feeling helpless and hopeless, please reach out for help."

Criss has discontinued in-person visitation for Ohio's psychiatric hospitals, but they are working to make sure there is video visitation.

"We are filing emergency rules to allow complete mental health telehealth coverage throughout Ohio. This will allow patients to use cell phones, facetime, etc., to talk with doctors. It also eliminates requirements that the first mental health appointment be conducted in person."

Many other hospitals in Ohio have started limiting visitors.

Officials said Saturday the Ohio Hospitals advisory group is working on a series of guidelines for doctors for postponing elective surgeries that do not put a patient at risk.

"There is a shortage of surgical masks," said Dr. Amy Acton. "This is one reason why we want to limit elective procedures. We need to preserve these supplies. We must take the healthcare situation very, very seriously."

"We are requesting that dentists and veterinarians postpone elective surgeries. This will ensure that hospital rooms will be kept open for patients who need them and that personal protective equipment is preserved," said officials.

More information about those recommendations is expected to be released Monday.

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