A Word from our President
Dear PaPS member,

We are facing circumstances never encountered before with the COVID-19 pandemic. As psychiatrists, we are on the front lines of providing care for our patients, searching for answers and stability during a time of uncertainty where updates are given not just daily, but on a minute-by-minute basis.

I want to formally thank you for your tireless dedication to your patients, their families, and to the health and well-being of all citizens across the Commonwealth. Your Society is working closely with the APA, the PA Medical Society and their medical specialty colleagues, and various departments within the Wolf Administration, to address your concerns and act as a clearinghouse for information crucial to meet the needs of your patients and their families.

The majority of questions our office is fielding relate to telehealth for those already providing this method of treatment and those venturing into this area to ensure there is no disruption of service for patients unable to come into the office.

As President of the Society, I am extremely proud of how our members have stepped up to ensure minimal disruption of service, regardless of the practice setting. I have spoken with our PaPS staff to come up with an approach to provide crucial information to our members. We have sent two recent emails with important information and will provide additional updates at least weekly, if not more frequently.

Our PaPS team is fully functional, working remotely to address your needs and to keep our organization afloat during this pandemic. There has been no disruption of service. If our updates do not address your concerns, please contact Deb Shoemaker, our executive director, via email at dshoemaker@pamedsoc.org or via phone at 1.800.422.2900.

Stay strong and healthy,

Keith R. Stowell, MD, DFAPA
President, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society
COVID-19 Specific Updates

Governor Wolf issued an executive order on Thursday, March 19 ordering all non-essential and life sustaining services to close until further notice. The order is attached here .

NOTE: Behavioral health services, both mental health and substance use services, are considered essential and life sustaining services.  As such, those entities that support, authorize and/or provide behavioral health services are exempt from the Governor’s directive asking for the closure of all non-essential businesses. Behavioral health services and supports are critical to the health and wellness of our communities and providers are expected to continue offering those services through the COVID-19 crisis period. 

Telemedicine: Resources/Updates/Changes
As the coronavirus pandemic evolves, our members struggle to determine the best way to provide care to their patients. Over the past few weeks, APA, PaPS and even the Pennsylvania Medical Society have been fielding emails and calls about how to use telemedicine- its challenges, how to adequately get reimbursed, how to begin the process- even just the basics to set up the process. Below is information from the state and federal level to initiate the process.


OMHSAS: In late February, Pennsylvania’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) released an updated telehealth bulletin. The updated bulletin and the attestation to begin the service is  enclosed here  . Changes to the bulletin included an expansion to the Department of Human Services’ Fee-for-Service program and expanded those medical health professionals who could provide the service.

However with the advent of COVID-19, a revised document was distributed on March 15.  Click here  to view the revised document. Additional relaxations to the service include the ability to allow service to be transmitted “in house” vs. with a healthcare professional present; the elimination of a HIPAA required line; and no limits on its use for treatment.

NOTE: this applies only to Medicaid. You will have to check with third party payers as to their coverage of telemedicine.

In light of COVID-19 and state responses to the crises, APA continues to add information to  our Coronavirus page . In the meantime, we wanted to get you the specific guidance for your state sooner than it can uploaded. Here is what we have for Pennsylvania so far: 


The APA has updated their website with additional information on telehealth and telepsychiatry. Specifically, they are watching closely how insurers will be reimbursing our members and that delays do not occur for those beginning to provide telehealth services and those providers expanding their services.

Click here  to read a blog with resources from the APA.

Many members have asked about how COVID-19 and telehealth affects prescribing of controlled substances. The DEA created a PDF in May of 2018 on providing Medication Assisted Treatment in a telehealth setting.  It is enclosed here  .  A link to their website is  attached here  to provide information on prescribing during the Coronavirus.


We were informed last week that malpractice carriers are receiving a significant amount of calls about telemedicine and how providers are covered during this pandemic.  Click here  for additional resources on the topic.

Click here to read the PRMS Coronavirus Risk Alert from March 20.

NOTE: This information is usually only shared with PRMS clients. In the interest of helping during this challenging time, we wanted to get it out to all psychiatrists and members of the mental health community. However, we were urged to share this information with our members.