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Helio Health Handling Substance Abuse Cases, Screenings During COVID-19 Pandemic with Technology

John Smith

The President and CEO of Helio Health says the way of life has been altered in Central New York by COVID-19 is difficult for people in general, let alone a drug user.  Jeremy Klemanski says the substance abuse support organization is processing more initial screenings of new clients and follow-ups through technology. 

He says that means less people are at risk of contracting the virus by eliminating travel.

“We do think that to the extent that we can minimize those in person contacts, we are preventing peoples exposure for attracting a virus which we know many of the people we serve potentially have higher risk factors for it, if they become infected.” 

He says that is often because a lot of their clients have mental health issues and therefore have a much more difficult time managing their other chronic health conditions.  Protecting them from COVID-19 is also complicated.

“And it affects everybody differently.  Some people understand what’s going on.  We have some folks with a very high acuity of mental health disorders that frankly don’t even understand what this threat is.  So, it takes a tremendous amount of time and resource to try to keep those folks safe.”

Helio Health is also seeing some anecdotal evidence across the state of an increase of drug overdoses due to stress and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 concerns.  Anyone who would like a first-time virtual screening can call (315) 471-1564.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.