Bridgeway and Clear Paths: Here Before, During, and After COVID

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September 16, 2020

When coronavirus swept over our world this year, it brought life as we knew it to a screeching halt. People lost their jobs, businesses were forced to shutter, and school shifted to an online platform. Crowds were forbidden in order to slow the spread of the virus and events people had been eagerly awaiting for months flew out the window.

But some things remained.

At Bridgeway and Clear Paths, we’ve continued to provide mental health support and addiction treatment throughout this entire global pandemic. We never left. When Oregon governor Kate Brown implemented her stay-at-home order, our organization, like many others, adjusted our services to accommodate the new guidelines, but we continued to help those struggling.

These adjustments included shifting our outpatient services to a virtual platform and reducing our detox bed capacity to allow for ample space and patient safety. However, even with these changes, we’ve remained a source of support to those enrolled in our services when the virus hit. We also actively reached out to the broader community to reach those who may have been struggling but were unaware that we were open.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things about this virus is that it has forced us all to distance ourselves from each other. That’s a hard and unnatural thing to do even for someone not struggling with addiction and their mental health—not spending time with loved ones; letting go of activities that bring us joy; and worrying about the health and safety of ourselves and those we love has caused all of us to feel hopeless, lonely, and stressed. For someone who was struggling with mental health or addiction before the virus hit, these problems have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. That’s why it has been imperative to let people know we’re open and available.

We’ve spread our message of hope and availability in a myriad of ways through this pandemic. We launched a Facebook campaign with messages of hope, we created brochures outlining the new practices we’ve implemented to keep those we serve safe in the midst of COVID, and we returned to the Salem Saturday Market with our Bridgeway booth to chat with the community and inform them about how we can help those who are struggling.

This outreach as paid off. Since March, we’ve worked hard at Bridgeway and Clear Paths to keep our services accessible, even if they look a little different. While virtual services (telelhealth) aren’t quite the same as connecting with a counselor in person, there have been notable advantages: we’ve been able to support people in all areas of the state, parents don’t need to find childcare while they attend an in-person therapy session, and transportation to appointments has become a non-issue, since these telehealth appointments occur wherever is convenient for the client. In fact, even after the chaos of coronavirus has subsided, telehealth may remain a vital part of how we provide services because it has been so successful for some.

Coronavirus has shaken up almost every part of all of our lives. During a time when we’re all asked to remain at least six feet apart, it’s important that we feel more connected and supported than ever. That’s why we’ve always been here. We were here before COVID, we’ve been here during, and we’ll be here long after. A pandemic is powerful, but so are relationships, connection, and hope.

COVID can’t take those away.