Sanford Virtual Care introduces new service for behavioral health appointments
MOORHEAD, Minn. (KVRR) — Sanford Health patients across Minnesota can now schedule behavioral health appointments through their MySanford chart account.
“What’s exciting about this is we’re trying to break down some of the stigma of behavioral or mental health. There’s still some stigma at times that people are afraid to seek out and get help and it’s just normal to ask for help,” said Brad Schipper, the President of Sanford Virtual Care.
Sanford calls its new online service a game changer which will make it easier for patients to see their therapists no matter where they’re calling from.
North Dakotans will have to wait a few weeks before they can use the service.
“It’s really important to know that over 20% of our visits today are done virtually already. It’s just the challenge of there’s so much demand and our care providers are spread so thin that this just provides another opportunity for patients who may have had trouble getting in to be able to get in and again this happens in the upcoming weeks, that patients will be able to self schedule,” said Schipper.
A therapist says many patients have to take a big chunk of time out of their day just to make it to their appointments on time.
“I think even when we do care in town, you still have somebody who they often need to take two hours off for transportation to have the therapy appointment and to get back to work. So, I think our patients for a long time have noted that it’s a struggle to make it due to the travel time and this really helps to address that, “says Jon Ulven, the Chair of Sanford Health’s Psychology Department.
Ulven says he’s excited to see how the service will help farmers and others living in rural areas meet their mental health needs.
“When you have farmers who are spending long hours, the navigation is on and the tractor, they’re sitting in there and a certain percentage of our farmers, they’re struggling. They’re struggling with mental health related issues whether that’s considering suicide, having a depressive disorder or anxiety and and it’s really interesting to think that they could be they’re doing their farming work and they could be having a virtual appointment at the same time. And I think there are other industries and other professions where that works really well too,” Ulven said.
You do not need a referral from a physician to use the service.