A Framework for the Community Psychiatrist's Role in the COVID-19 Response
Community ment. health j
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted community mental health center (CMHC) operations by limiting in-person access to patients and contributing to staff absenteeism. States adjust social distancing levels over time in response to changes in economic needs, healthcare system utilization, and COVID-19 virus transmission levels. Community mental health centers also need to balance service needs with infection risk, which requires adjusting social distancing levels in response to changes in the local conditions. This article will: (1) briefly describe epidemiological indicators most useful for judging the local infection trends, (2) describe a strategy for organizing specific agency clinical functions on a social distancing level scale, (3) propose a set of agency phases to inform administrative responses to changes in the risk to operations, and (4) discuss the role of psychiatrists as physicians in a mental health agency during a pandemic.