NRVCS still providing services during pandemic

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NRVCS Pulaski Clinic (NRVCS file photo)
While there are measures in place to limit the number of people in agency facilities, all of NRVCS’ clinics – including the one in Pulaski – remain open. (NRVCS file photo)

Despite the fact that they are taking multiple precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, officials with New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS) want the community to know that they are indeed open and ready to help individuals who may be struggling with mental illness or addiction.

NRVCS is the New River Valley’s public provider of behavioral health services. The agency provides a full continuum of treatment and supports for persons living with mental health and/or substance use disorders, as well as developmental disabilities. Established in 1969, the agency serves the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski, as well as the City of Radford. Last year, NRVCS served nearly 12,000 residents.

“Like many other businesses and providers, our process may look a little different right now but we are continuing to provide our full array of services,” notes NRVCS Executive Director James Pritchett. “The pandemic may have interrupted or brought many things to a halt – but that isn’t the case when it comes to mental health and substance use disorders. In fact, we’re beginning to see the exact opposite.”

Pritchett points to data recently released by the Virginia Department of Health that shows a significant increase in emergency department visits for unintentional drug overdose across the state, including southwest Virginia, through the first quarter of 2020.

“I think the numbers associated with overdose help illustrate how the current situation with COVID-19 is growing beyond immediate concerns about our own personal safety and physical well-being,” Pritchett adds. “We know that isolation can negatively impact our mental health – and extended stay-at-home orders only adds to that.”

“Extended periods of isolation are also potentially dangerous for individuals in recovery from substance use disorders,” Pritchett continues. “Especially, for folks who rely on support groups and engagement with their peers.”

Pritchett explains that many of NRVCS’ staff are currently working from home and that the agency is utilizing telehealth technology to connect with patients and deliver services like outpatient therapy. He went on to say that staff who are working in face-to-face settings are taking necessary precautions and using personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed. In order to reduce face-to-face interactions within our NRVCS facilities, traffic flow has been limited for the time being.

“The safety and well-being of our staff and the individuals we serve is our highest priority,” notes Pritchett. “At the same time, we feel that there has perhaps never been a more important time for us to be available to our community…If you or someone you know needs help, I encourage you to call us.”

How to access help from NRVCS

If you are a resident of the New River Valley seeking help for a mental health or substance use disorder, you can call NRVCS at 540-961-8400 to complete an initial phone screening. If an evaluation is recommended, you will be contacted by phone for a brief clinical screening and an offer to set up an appointment using telehealth.

(Note: NRVCS will assist you with setting up the free technology so that you can be connected with a provider. Or, if you do not have access to technology, the evaluation can be completed by phone, or in-person, as a last resort. “Walk-ins” are currently being discouraged due to COVID-19.)  

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