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610 2nd Ave. NE
Cascade, Iowa 52033

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1550 University Avenue
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

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2255 JFK Road
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UnityPoint Clinic Behavioral Health Goes Virtual During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Betty Brimeyer, MSN, PMHNP, FNP, ARNP provides virtual care to one of her patients.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many elective procedures were postponed and our clinics transitioned many appointments to telephonic (over the phone) or telehealth (virtual or video) visits. 

One of our clinics, UnityPoint Clinic Behavioral Health, kept in touch with patients throughout the pandemic by offering telehealth visits to established patients. 

Betty Brimeyer, MSN, PMHNP, FNP, ARNP, knew that being there for her patients was a must during the pandemic and telehealth provided that opportunity. When restrictions were first put into place, Brimeyer adapted to the situation and had all telehealth or telephone appointments for over three weeks.

“During this challenging time, it was very evident that my patients needed to still be able to connect and see me for help and reassurance,” Brimeyer said. “With them already trying to deal with the fear of a pandemic, increased depression and anxiety symptoms would have been worse, leaving them feeling very alone or even abandoned during a great time of need in their lives.   

Anne Heiar was one of Brimeyer’s patients that elected to utilize telehealth visits. For the telehealth visits, Heiar downloaded the program, completed a short login questionnaire, checked in at the time of her appointment and talked to Betty via a secure video chat platform within the app on her computer.  

By having the telehealth option for her appointment, Heiar was able to talk to her provider to go over medications and how she was doing. 

“The clinic originally contacted me when everything was peaking with COVID-19,” Heiar said. “It was great, because I didn’t have to leave my house and could just dial in from my computer to talk to her. When we had my appointment, we both logged on and started our conversation. It was very easy, and I really enjoyed it.”

While using telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, Heiar liked keeping in touch with her provider, while also keeping everyone safe. 

“The fact that she can prescribe medicine and talk to me, without me leaving my house was just really convenient,” Heiar said. “I know some people are still hesitant to leave their house, so the fact that UnityPoint Health offers this type of service is very fortunate and helpful. It was considerate of other people’s needs and protected the clinic staff, too. 

Throughout her telehealth appointment, Heiar enjoyed the convenience factor that she had what she called “instant access” to her provider without waiting in a lobby. 

For Brimeyer, she was able to get a small glimpse into the patient’s personal life while having telehealth appointments with her patients.

“At least being able to see my patients was great, rather than just letting them fend for themselves during that time,” Brimeyer said. “I was able to see that they were doing okay or not doing okay. I also enjoyed meeting some children, grandchildren, all sorts of pets and other family members and friends during the virtual appointments.”

Heiar enjoyed using telehealth for her appointments during the pandemic and hopes to keep doing telehealth appointments in the future. 

“The whole process itself was really, really easy,” Heiar said. “I think it’s a valuable tool that UnityPoint Health is offering to us patients and people in other situations. We are all going through a lot right now, so it was good that I was still able to connect with my provider to make sure that I was okay.”

For more information on telehealth options at UnityPoint Health or to learn more about UnityPoint Clinic Behavioral Health, visit unitypoint.org.