Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association

News / Articles

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 7:20 PM | KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)

    To address questions from health care providers around the state, participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from AHCA, will provide updates from DOH on the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, provide a briefing from AHCA, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from health care providers. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the call-in information below:

    Date: Every Tuesday
    Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov


  • Monday, May 04, 2020 8:21 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)
    Florida Department of Health

    Important Health Care Provider Updates for Coronavirus Disease 2019(COVID-19)

    May 4, 2020

    Governor DeSantis Issues Executive Order Number 20-112

    On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-112 to outline Phase One: Plan for Florida’s Recovery. As you review the entire Executive Order, please note that Section 5 relates to health care practitioners. The Executive Order was effective at 12:01 a.m. on May 4, 2020.

    Final Report of the Re-Open Florida Task Force

    The Re-Open Florida Task Force Executive Committee Report was submitted to Governor DeSantis. Click here to view the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery Report.

    Renewal of Declaration of Public Health Emergency

    On April 30, 2020, State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees renewed the Declaration of Public Health Emergency originally issued on March 1, 2020. Click here to view the Renewal of Declaration of Public Health Emergency related to COVID-19.

    Diagnostic Testing

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their clinical and diagnostic testing criteria for COVID-19. Patients with cough or shortness of breath or with two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, headache, sore throat, myalgia, and sudden loss of taste or smell should be considered for testing. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html

    Antibody Testing

    The Food and Drug Administration has provided guidance on antibody testing to health care providers. These tests are still being validated and should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose COVID-19 infections. It is also not yet clear to what extent antibodies to COVID-19 protect against reinfection. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/important-information-use-serological-antibody-tests-covid-19-letter-health-care-providers

    Talkspace

    Talkspace is providing free therapy for medical and health care workers, first responders, and state employees on a first-come, first-serve basis. The company connects individual users with a network through an easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant web and mobile platform. In addition to therapy, Talkspace launched a series of free, therapist-led Facebook support groups to address anxiety relating to COVID-19, and a COVID-19 channel on Instagram (IG). These platforms include therapists, weekly therapist IG LIVES, mental health check-ins, and content sharing.

    Updated Format for the Weekly Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call

    To address all the questions from health care providers around the state, the Department of Health has instituted a new format for the weekly health care provider telephone conference call. Participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. The State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from the Agency for Health Care Administration, will provide updates from the Department of Health on the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, provide a briefing from the Agency for Health Care Administration, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from our health care providers. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the call-in information below:

    Date: Every Tuesday
    Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov



  • Thursday, April 30, 2020 9:59 AM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)
    • Mental Health Resources: Natural disasters – including such pandemics as the coronavirus outbreak – can be overwhelming and also can seriously affect emotional health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990 (or text TalkWithUs to 66746) – provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to anyone who is seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects caused by developments related to the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the Disaster Distress Helpline here.
    • Addiction & Substance Abuse Resources: The COVID-19 pandemic has created countless challenges for those delivering care to our most vulnerable populations. People with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) are especially at high risk suffering complications from COVID-19. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which leads and coordinates the development, implementation, and assessment of U.S. drug policy, released a fact sheet that contains information on Federal actions to expand telemedicine and e-prescribing, to increase flexibility for treatment with methadone and buprenorphine, to improve access to prescribed controlled substances, and to expand assistance to rural areas.


  • Friday, April 24, 2020 4:09 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)


    Florida Department of Health

    Updated Format for the Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    April 24, 2020

    Updated Format for the Weekly Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call

    To address all the questions from health care providers around the state, the Department of Health has instituted a new format for the weekly health care provider telephone conference call. Participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. The State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from the Agency for Health Care Administration, will provide updates from the Department of Health on the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, provide a briefing from the Agency for Health Care Administration, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from our health care providers. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the call-in information below:

    Date: Every Tuesday
    Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov




  • Friday, April 24, 2020 4:06 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

    Florida Department of Health

    The Florida Department of Health has been alerted to phishing emails sent to health care licensees reporting to be a license update and bearing the Department’s logo. Clicking on links from this email will prompt you to enter credentials that malicious actors may use to access your account and maybe also used for an attack known as credential stuffing, where attempts are made to access other accounts using the same or similar password patterns.

    What you need to know: Please be extra cautious when clicking on links or attachments, even from emails that appear to be from authoritative sources. An example of the email reported is below but may not be the only variation on the theme. Note the unusual sender email address, and when hovering over the link, it goes to a Russian domain that is not associated with the State of Florida or Medical Quality Assurance.

    What you need to do: If you receive one of these emails, report it as spam or phishing using the options available with your email provider. If you have followed a link and entered credentials or personal information, we recommend resetting your password for any accounts that use the same or similar passwords. As an extra precaution, we also recommend that you enable multifactor authentication with your email provider and other online accounts.

    Thank you for your diligence.



  • Monday, April 13, 2020 12:17 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

    Notice of Emergency Rule

    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

    Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling

    RULE NO.: RULE TITLE:

    64B4ER20-24 Revised Definition of “Face-to-Face psychotherapy”

    SPECIFIC REASONS FOR FINDING AN IMMEDIATE DANGER TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY OR WELFARE: The Board Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (hereinafter the “Board”) is statutorily mandated to adopt rules to implement and enforce the provisions of Chapter 491, Florida Statutes. Pursuant to this authority, the Board has promulgated rules setting forth the guidelines and requirements for clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling interns while completing internship hours.

    Rule 64B4-2.002, Florida Administrative Code, requires interns to complete clinical internship hours by face-to-face psychotherapy with client. It distinguishes between face-to-face psychotherapy and face-to-face by electronic methods for sessions with the intern’s Qualified Supervisor. The rule currently does not allow face-to-face psychotherapy by electronic methods with clients. Additionally, the Rule also limits the number of face-to-face supervision sessions between registered interns and their Qualified Supervisors to 50% of the total number of supervision sessions by electronic methods. The present rule also supersedes emergency rule 64B4ER20-20, F.A.C., which limits face-to-face psychotherapy by electronic methods to clients who had an existing psychotherapeutic relationship established with a registered intern prior to the effective date of the rule and did not clarify that clinical hours obtained by electronic methods would count toward an interns experience requirements.

    On March 1, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-51 which directed the State Health Officer and Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, to declare a public health emergency pursuant to the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). On March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-52 (Emergency Management - COVID-19 Public Health Emergency) and officially declared that a state of emergency exists in the State of Florida. COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory illness that can spread among humans through respiratory transmission and presents with symptoms similar to those of influenza. As of April 1, 2020, there are 6,955 cases of COVID-19 in the State of Florida, with the number rising exponentially. The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) recommends mitigation measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 such as staying home when sick, keeping away from others who are sick, staying home when a household member is sick with respiratory disease symptoms, and for those who are at higher risk, including older adults and those who have serious chronic medical conditions, to avoid non-essential air travel and to avoid crowds as much as possible. Many communities have enacted stay at home orders requiring individuals to work form home whenever possible, to closer non-essential business, and to limit travel outside the home to essential needs only.

    Since the issuance of the Executive Order and the declaration of a public health emergency by the State Health Officer and Surgeon General Dr. Rivkees, the Board office has received numerous calls and emails from registered interns and qualified supervisors concerned about the dangers of individual therapy and supervision sessions related to COVID-19. Furthermore, since emergency rule 64B4ER20-20, F.A.C., was enacted, the Board office has received numerous calls and emails from registered interns, domestic violence shelters, and rape treatment centers stating that they are seeing an increase in new clients and cannot provide services to these new patients under social distancing guidelines without registered interns being able to conduct psychotherapy sessions via electronic means. Inquiries have been made as to whether there are alternative methods by which clients can receive a continuation of therapy and allowing the expansion of supervision by electronic means thereby eliminating the possibility of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Many registered interns, Qualified Supervisors, and clients of registered interns are included as part of the particularly vulnerable population impacted by COVID-19 as identified by the CDC. As the current rule requires that all psychotherapy sessions between a registered intern and their existing and new clients take place face-to-face at the same location and since qualified supervisor sessions are limited to only 50% of meeting via electronic means, this emergency change will ensure that Florida’s citizens continue to have access to mental health care professionals and are not denied services or placed in unnecessary risk. This revision will ensure that a particularly vulnerable population, e.g. victims of domestic violence and sexual battery, are able to receive services regardless of when they were victimized. This revision is essential during this healthcare emergency.

    Accordingly, the Board, by emergency rule, allows for the continuation of services to clients of registered interns so that necessary and helpful psychotherapeutic services may be established and are not interrupted. The Board finds that these actions are a measured regulatory approach that helps to mitigate the threat of exposure to COVID-19 and to protect the registered interns and their clients from exposure to COVID-19

    REASON FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE PROCEDURE IS FAIR UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES: Given the recently declared emergency in the State of Florida, the recent guidance from the CDC, the Federal Social distancing guidelines which will be in effect through at least April 30, and the risk of denying mental health care services to citizens of Florida during the current declared emergency, the Board finds that an immediate danger to the public health, safety, or welfare necessitates immediate action. Notice of this emergency meeting was published in the Florida Administrative Register on April 1, 2020. In addition, notice of the Board’s emergency meeting was posted on the Board’s official website.

    SUMMARY: The proposed emergency rule allows for a continuation of services to Florida’s mental health care recipients of registered interns which will likely be interrupted due to risk of transmittal of COVID-19 during the present health care emergency as registered interns are not currently able to provide services via remote electronic methods.

    THE PERSON TO BE CONTACTED REGARDING THE EMERGENCY RULE IS: Janet Hartman Executive Director, Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, 4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin # C-06 Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3256.

    THE FULL TEXT OF THE EMERGENCY RULE IS:

    64B4ER20-24 Revised Definition of “Face-to-Face psychotherapy”

    (1) “Face-to-face psychotherapy” for clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors registered pursuant to Section 491.0045, F.S., includes face-to-face by electronic methods so long as the registered intern establishes and adheres to the following:

    (a) The registered intern has a qualified supervisor and maintains a qualified supervisor for the duration of the application of this rule; and

    (b) The registered intern has a written telehealth protocol and safety plan in place with their current qualified supervisor which includes the provision that the qualified supervisor must be readily available during the electronic therapy session.

    (2) Notwithstanding 64B4-2.002(3) and (4), F.A.C., a qualified supervisor may utilize face-to-face electronic methods, including telephone only communication, to conduct all supervisory sessions for internship hours. Any clinical hours obtained via face-to-face psychotherapy by electronic means shall be considered clinical hours for the purpose of meeting internship requirements.

    (3) Emergency rule 64B4ER20-20, F.A.C., is hereby superseded by the present rule.

    Rulemaking Authority 491.004(5), 491.005(1)(c), (3)(c), (4)(c) FS. Law Implemented 491.005(1)(c), (3)(c), (4)(c) FS. History–New, .

    THIS RULE TAKES EFFECT UPON BEING FILED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE UNLESS A LATER TIME AND DATE IS SPECIFIED IN THE RULE.

    EFFECTIVE DATE: April 3, 2020

    Link For Rule: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/View_Notice.asp?id=23115311


  • Thursday, March 19, 2020 6:05 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

    Hello FMHCA family,

    A few days ago, we contacted the 491 board and requested that they issue an emergency rule related to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the related push to make telehealth available to clients. In response, the 491 Board issued a new rule today that (a) allows registered mental health counselor interns to use their telehealth therapy hours towards their 1,500 face-to-face psychotherapy hours (but only if the intern and client had a therapeutic relationship prior to 3/19/20) and (b) permits qualified supervisors to conduct all supervision hours with interns via webcam. We very much appreciate the efforts of the 491 Board to help ensure adequate client access to therapy appointments during this difficult time.

    Click on the link below to download the Notice of Emergency Rule:

    Notice of Emergency Rule.pdf (highlight and right click to open link)


  • Thursday, March 19, 2020 5:50 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

     

    Copied and pasted from the HHS.gov website (US Dept of Health & Human Services):

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 17, 2020
    Contact: HHS Press Office
    202-690-6343
    media@hhs.gov

    OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

    Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced, effective immediately, that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
    This exercise of discretion applies to widely available communications apps, such as FaceTime or Skype, when used in good faith for any telehealth treatment or diagnostic purpose, regardless of whether the telehealth service is directly related to COVID-19.

    In support of this action, OCR will be providing further guidance explaining how covered health care providers can use remote video communication products and offer telehealth to patients responsibly.

    "We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency," said Roger Severino, OCR Director. "We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities," Severino added.

    The Notification of Enforcement Discretion on telehealth remote communications may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/…/notification-enforcement-d…/index.html.

    For more information on HIPAA and COVID-19, see OCR's February 2020 Bulletin: https://www.hhs.gov/…/february-2020-hipaa-and-novel-coronav…

    Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
    Like HHS on Facebook , follow HHS on Twitter @HHSgov , and sign up for HHS Email Updates.
    Last revised: March 17, 2020


  • Thursday, March 19, 2020 3:29 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

    Press Release


  • Thursday, November 03, 2016 4:10 AM | Anonymous

Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.
Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved

Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association
P.O. Box 110002 
Bradenton, FL 34211

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