Centennial Mental Health’s workforce and clients are recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some things will never be the same.
Dr. Elizabeth Hickman, executive director of the 10-county mental health district, told Logan County commissioners during their Tuesday business session that Centennial has seen a 30% turnover rate in its workforce and a decline in 15% of customer interactions during the pandemic. Hickman said the phenomenon was statewide.
“People kind of crumbled during that time,” she said.
Hickman traditionally submits an annual report to commissioners, but said she did not report in the spring of 2021 due to the pandemic.
The pandemic has hit face-to-face customer relationships the hardest, Hickman said. By mid-March 2020, face-to-face interactions had fallen to around a quarter of all interactions, with another quarter occurring over the phone and half of all interactions taking place online.
While face-to-face interactions have rebounded to around 50%, Hickman said, it seems like having half of all connections online is a new norm.
“Telehealth is a national phenomenon, and that’s a good thing because people who can’t otherwise come to in-person meetings can be served,” she said. “But it takes away staff because these providers pay very well.”
Hickman said nine area schools can now connect to Centennial via telehealth. She said the mental health clinic has hired two more clinicians and two more support staff; one of the clinicians is working remotely from his home in Estes Park.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners agreed to waive rental fees for the Platte River Riding Club to use the Logan County Fairgrounds for four days in July.
Kristina McKay said the Riding Club is not geared towards high-intensity competition, but rather to get familiar with and simply enjoy riding.
“We want to make sure kids have something to do that doesn’t require travel to compete,” McKay said.
Competitions will include barrel racing, pole bending, keyholes and other events. Because the group is nonprofit, the commissioners agreed to waive the fee. The club will meet at the Parc des Expositions on July 1, 8, 15 and 22.