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Healthcare organizations open helplines for those impacted by Harvey

August 31, 2017

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, organizations from all corners of the healthcare industry are opening their phone lines to help those impacted.

New Directions (800-843-6514) and Elements Behavioral Health (844-767-9507) are among the behavioral healthcare providers who are offering assistance by phone at no cost. New Directions has licensed clinicians available to take calls and triage immediate clinical needs. Those who are members of New Directions partner health plans are provided with a list of available resources, while non-members are guided to community resources.

"When disasters like this happen, mental health, stress and anxiety are an afterthought," says Deborah Mower, communications manager at New Directions. "People think they can handle this, but many times, they can't. We want them to know help is available when they need it."

Adam Powell, clinical director for New Directions, says calls begin by determining whether callers are mentally and physically safe, and then working to help put them in touch with needed resources.

"We conduct a telephonic triage and make sure the member is not in immediate risk," Powell says. "If they are, we'll do what we need to do to get them safe, whether it's call the local police or spend time with them on the phone."

While most calls New Directions has been receiving have centered on helping to identify local shelters and other resources, Powell says the organization has also received calls from Louisiana, where some individuals are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, having previously gone through Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Other organizations providing assistance by phone include:

  • SAMHSA (800-985-5990) is offering immediate crisis counseling and connecting callers to professionals from the closest crisis center. Staff members answering calls provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services.
  • Aetna (888-238-6232) is operating its Resources for Living services for plan members, providing phone consultations to help cope with the emotional impact caused by the hurricane, as well as assistance with finding resources such as shelters, referrals and other government programs. Through its telehealth provider, Teladoc (855-220-4585), Aetna is offering free general medical services to anyone impacted by the hurricane (including non-members).
  • Cigna (800-244-6224 for Cigna health plan members or 866-912-1687 for non-members) has phone lines staffed with clinicians to speak with callers about how to cope with loss, anxiety, stress and other issues from the hurricane.
  • Humana (866-440-6556) is offering free confidential assistance for anyone who needs help and support in coping with the disaster and its aftermath.
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