Wednesday, May 25

Empire Psychiatry Expanding Telehealth Services to Respond to Unprecedented Demand Amid COVID-19

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With stress, anxiety, and depression seemingly permeating our lives almost every single day – thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic – there has been an unprecedented demand from the public for assistance in helping navigate the emotionally choppy waters of their day-to-day lives.
And when it comes to gentle, compassionate, and knowledgeable mental health services that can help in getting your life back on track, Empire Psychiatry is a caring and professional psychiatry practice that you can turn to get the support you need.
Empire Psychiatry provides medication management services combined with empathetic, supportive practitioners, ensuring that their patients get the treatment they need in order to lead productive, fruitful, and happy lives.
The practice has been open for business for a few years; within their first year of existence they opened a main office based in Rockville Center, followed by two other practices in Glen Head and Manhattan. Since our previous article on the practice, Empire Psychiatry has continued to expand, opening up new offices in Astoria, Queens and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
One industry that has been especially impacted by the COVID-19, perhaps for good, is mental health services. During the midst of the pandemic – when strict lockdown measures were in-place to help curb the spread of the virus – many mental health providers switched to what is known as teletherapy, meaning their sessions were held either by phone or video conferencing, as opposed to meeting with their patients face-to-face.
Now that we are in the waning days of the pandemic, many aspects of American businesses are returning to normal; however, according to Empire Psychiatry’s Clinical Director, Dr. Jacob Wartenberg, the switch to teletherapy in the mental health industry has proven to be both convenient and beneficial to both parties, doctor and patient, and may very well become the norm going forward.
“The majority of our caseload is now telepsych, and it’s something we’re looking to expand upon in the future,” he said.
The process of adapting their business model to telepsych included its fair share of logistical hurdles, but once the kinks were ironed out it provided an excellent way for patients and their practitioners to keep in touch when seeing each other in-person simply wasn’t an option.
“At the beginning we were a little anxious that it would take away from the in-person patient experience, and we needed to make sure that everything was still organized on the back end to make sure that the patients didn’t have wait times,” Dr. Wartenberg said.
“We’re organized on our end to make sure that our patients get the same quality of care that they’ve always been given, and we created internal systems to make sure that appointments are on time, that everyone gets still gets seen the same amount of time, and that patient satisfaction and outcomes are still where they needs to be.”
Dr. Wartenberg noted that telehealth, in addition to being safe, also allows both psychiatric practitioners and patients a greater degree of flexibility, resulting in fewer missed appointments and an overall experience, that in many ways, is just as good – If not better – than a face-to-face meeting.
“Many patients have liked telehealth even more, especially ones with anxiety who don’t like going out or waiting and an office with other people,” he said. “Just the act of getting out of the house and driving to an office for your appointment can cause a lot of anxiety and be a significant hurdle for some patients, so the fact that we were able to go telehealth just opened opportunities for people who would have not previously sought out mental health services.”
The need for mental health support has not been greater in recent memory than it is now, with a number of factors – the economy, political strife, global turmoil, and two years of a pandemic – combining to create a perfect storm of anxiety and depression for many people who are just trying to get by, Dr. Wartenberg said.
“Especially after COVID, many people have developed anxiety disorders or depression when they were previously fine before, and a lot of it is related to catastrophizing the possibilities for the future with the news blasting negative messages all day long,” he said. “A lot of patients are also coming in with health anxiety, and it’s gotten to the point where anxiety related specifically to health is taken on a life of its own and exacerbated a lot of underlying mental health conditions that would have not previously been active, if not for two years of stress.”
“We’re very familiar with treating issues ranging from Anxiety and ADHD to Depression and Bipolar, and we’ve treated many patients successfully,” Dr. Wartenberg added, noting that all of the practitioners and staff in the practice are very empathetic, warm, and personable.
“It’s not just about medication, it’s about someone who understands your situation, and allows you to open up without judgment, and with true understanding,” he said.
At the end of the day, Dr. Wartenberg said that he and his team get a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction out of their roles and their ability to provide these vital services to struggling individuals, which during these difficult times, is not something he or his team would ever take for granted.
“It feels great that we can see noticeable changes, especially when someone comes in at a real low point and we can actively see the changes happening from session to session,” he said. “It’s just a very rewarding feeling, knowing that you were part of helping someone directly, and that the changes are pretty immediate and noticeable.”
To find out more about Empire Psychiatry or schedule an appointment, you can call 516-900-7646 or visit their website at EmpireCareClinic.com.

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