An Update from our CEO Regarding COVID-19 (April 2, 2020)
Dear StarVista Friends,
StarVista’s CEO, Sara Larios Mitchell, Ph.D., MACP, answers questions about what StarVista is doing to continue providing services during the shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 emergency.
1. What are some examples of programmatic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?
As our agency is deemed an “essential service,” we have quickly pivoted to a new service delivery model. So many of our services are delivered face-to-face with clinicians, case managers, and many other front-line staff meeting with clients. Our team has met the challenge of now serving clients through a “virtual” system and are doing so through Telehealth.
We are also still serving homeless youth in our residential programs which are truly like a home environment and are warm, inviting, and welcoming. We are now adapting and practicing “physical distancing” for safety.
2. What are some challenges StarVista is facing when it comes to unmet needs of staff or clients?
While our team has adapted at a very rapid pace to the new methods of serving our clients, not all of our clients have access to technology. With so many services switching to remote platforms, we are in need of devices including laptops, phones and tablets to help our clients access online school, work and appointments.
In addition to our youth residential programs, we have staff serving clients directly at our First Chance Sobering Station. We continue to need protective gear such as masks, sanitizers, and bleach. The need for these supplies is critical as we saw a dramatic increase in clients during the month of March.
3. Are there any trends StarVista is seeing in the mental health and wellbeing of clients during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Our concern is that there will be heightened stress, anxiety, and exacerbated mental health issues, including increased drug and alcohol abuse. Some clients are also reluctant to utilize our Telehealth services and so we are concerned for their mental health. We will continue to reach out to our clients and make sure that they know we are ready to support them.
4. Can you tell us what services are available right now?
I am very proud to say that we remain fully operational and all of our programs are serving clients primarily through a Telehealth service delivery model. Our youth residential programs and our First Chance Sobering station continue to deliver in-person services while employing physical distancing practices.
5. What is the message you want to tell San Mateo County?
We want to encourage everyone to follow the stay-at-home order, but also shift our thinking from social distancing to the concept of physical distancing. We need each other now more than ever, but we need to do this while focusing on reducing the risk of harming ourselves and others around us.
6. How is StarVista adjusting to the changes around the COVID-19 orders?
We have made tremendous adjustments internally to allow most of our staff to work from home. We have implemented more IT resources and Cybersecurity trainings. We have had an opportunity to strengthen our disaster plan.
During these unprecedented times, we’ve been able to work closely with our funders and supporters to develop plans for emergency funding and flexible grant payment schedules, allowing us to use funds immediately to help our community. We’re grateful that foundations are recognizing the crucial need for timely, flexible funding to help us carry out our mission.
We will emerge out of this crisis stronger than when we came into it.
The StarVista Team