Learning lessons from COVID-19
Despite the challenges with moving to telehealth, Dr. Fortuna said the tool has proved beneficial overall for mental health care. For Dr. Fortuna’s team for example, telehealth by phone has decreased the no-show rate, compared with clinic visits, and improved care access.
“We need to figure out how to maintain that,” she said. “If we can build ways for equity and access to Internet, especially equipment, I think that’s going to help.”
In addition, more data are needed about the ways in which COVID-19 is affecting Latino patients, Dr. Colón-Rivera said. Mortality statistics have been published, but information is needed about the rates of infection and manifestation of illness.
Most importantly, the COVID-19 crisis has emphasized the critical need to address and improve the underlying inequity issues among Latino patients, psychiatrists say.
“We really need to think about how there can be partnerships, in terms of community-based Latino business and leaders, multisector resources, trying to think about how we can improve conditions both work and safety for Latinos,” Dr. Fortuna said. “How can schools get support in integrating mental health and support for families, especially now after COVID-19? And really looking at some of these underlying inequities that are the underpinnings of why people were at risk for the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”