UPDATED June 17, 2020

Update: CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. HHS expects to distribute $15 billion to eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers. The payment to each provider will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care; the final amount each provider receives will be determined after the data is submitted, including information about the number of Medicaid patients providers serve. To learn more or apply: CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.

COVID-19 Resources

California is doing a good job of holding the line on the Stay at Home order issued by Governor Newsome in a state of emergency proclamation on March 4, 2020. While the rates of infection and death are trending downward, it’s important that we continue to practice all safety guidance protocols. In this article, you will find links to all the DHCS guidance released for behavioral health, as well as links to the agencies keeping us informed with up-to-date information.

Governor Newsome announced on May 7, 2020, the release of industry guidance to help businesses reduce risk and establish a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. Please see the attached industry-specific checklists and learn more about California’s Resilience Roadmap.

The most recent updates from DHCS include guidance for the SUD Counselor and the requirement to complete AOD registration as stated below.

BHIN-20-016 & BHIN 20-17
Additional Time to Complete Counselor Certification Requirements

California Code of Regulations, Title 9, §13035(f)(1) requires AOD registered counselors to obtain certification as an AOD counselor, from a DHCS recognized certifying organization, within five (5) years of the date of registration.

Under the authority of Executive Order N-55-20, DHCS shall suspend the requirement to complete AOD registration for the duration of the declaration of emergency. DHCS shall extend the AOD registrants’ completion date by the same number of months that the requirement was suspended.

DHCS Guidance During the Pandemic

The Department of Healthcare Services (DHCS) issued several guidance documents during the pandemic regarding all aspects of the delivery and management of behavioral health.

Recently Released DHCS Guidance

Previously Released DHCS Guidance

Important Update from DHCS – April 6, 2020

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is providing this update of significant developments this week related to DHCS programs, including guidance related to the COVID-19 emergency.

On April 3, 2020, DHCS submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) a request for a waiver under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act and a Disaster State Plan Amendment seeking additional flexibilities to address the health care needs of California during the emergency.

In addition, on April 3, 2020, CMS notified DHCS that it has approved California’s request for a waiver of the broad-based and uniformity requirements related to the State’s managed care organization (MCO) tax, effective January 1, 2020.  DHCS is currently evaluating the approval and what, if any, changes will be necessary. 

CMS also recently approved the DHCS’ requests for five 1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Appendix K amendments, which allow flexibilities during emergency situations that may impact the provision of health care services and California’s ability to meet certain HCBS Waiver requirements. The stand-alone Appendix K amendments are used to advise CMS of expected changes to HCBS Waiver operations or to request temporary amendments to approved Waivers. California received these Appendix K approvals for the period of February 4, 2020, to June 30, 2020, in response to challenges the State faces as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

The individual waiver requests and approval letter are linked below:

DHCS also published additional and/or updated guidance for providers, beneficiaries and the public related to the COVID-19 emergency:

Additional updates will be posted to the DHCS COVID-19 resource page.

Clients at Risk – Resources

The following resource links will also help to keep you updated as you determine how to handle the threat in your practice, business, and life.

California Department of Health

The website provides an overview of the virus, the latest news releases, and the most recent data about cases in California. Additionally, there are many California specific resources such as:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC is in charge of addressing the COVID-19 outbreak in the US. Visit the COVID-19 website to learn about What You Should Know, Situation Updates, and information for specific audiences such as Healthcare Professionals and Facilities. You can also learn what the CDC is doing to address the Coronavirus threat. Available are 10 color handouts to use to address the crisis at your location.

The World Health Organization

Visit the WHO website for daily updates of the Coronavirus throughout the world. On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” (PHEIC).

Limit the Spread of Germs and Prevent Infection

Guidance for wearing face masks has been updated.


The CDC now advises everyone to wear a cloth face cover when going out in public, such as going to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.

  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker.
  • In addition, do NOT place cloth face coverings on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • For more information, see CDC guidelines, including how to create your own cloth face cover.

Additionally, practice the following stay-safe guidelines:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
  • Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.

Governor Newsom Releases Executive Order

On March 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom also issued a new executive order (PDF) further enhancing California’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s order:

  • Waives the one-week waiting period for people who are unemployed and/or disabled as a result of COVID-19;
  • Delays the deadline for state tax filing by 60 days for individuals and businesses unable to file on time based on compliance with public health requirements related to COVID-19 filings;
  • Directs residents to follow public health directives and guidance, including canceling large non-essential gatherings that do not meet state criteria;
  • Readies the state to commandeer property for temporary residences and medical facilities for quarantining, isolating or treating individuals;
  • Allows local or state legislative bodies to hold meetings via teleconference and to make meetings accessible electronically; and
  • Allows local and state emergency administrators to act quickly to protect public health.

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez

Dr. Rodriguez was named the Executive Director of Gateway Corp in 2012.  Gateway Corp was developed as a non-profit, public charity and founded October 27, 2011. November 2014, she developed a clinical hub for Gateway Corp called OnSite Strategies. OnSite is also a United States Trademark.

She has held the position of CEO, Clinical Director, Lead Educator and Clinical Trainer as well as the Clinical Business Developer. She has fulfilled the roles of a clinical consultant, professional development consultant and has clinically supervised many SUD/addiction counselors, mental health professionals and addiction and family interventionists for over 12 years.

She has been active in the mental health field since 1995. She has also clinically trained throughout the US and provides clinical oversight for several organizations in California.

Dr. Rodriguez released her first book, “When the Rainbow Ends a Shadow from Heaven Appears” in 2017.” Her newest book, “The Cart, From Adversity to Collateral Beauty” is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Dr. Rodriguez is currently a writer for Rapporteur Magazine. Her focus is about Mental Wellness also covered topics to include ACE’s, trauma, anxiety, and Systemic Racism.

Adriana Popescu, Ph.D.

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addictions and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Founder and CEO of Firebird Healing, a trauma healing program, and the Clinical Director at Avery Lane, an innovative and holistic treatment program for women with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders and trauma.

Adriana has contributed to a number of books, including TJ Woodward’s Conscious Being Workbook, the Conscious Recovery for Addiction and Conscious Recovery for Mental Health Workbooks, and the Conscious Creation Workbook, all of which she co-authored with him.

She has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world speaking, coaching, and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She also hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health.

Adriana loves to bring the most innovative and effective tools to her work, empowering people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.

Her first book, “What If You’re Not as F*cked Up As You Think”, was released in October.

Aven Armstrong-Sutton, Ph.D(c), RSW

Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services

Aven L. Armstrong-Sutton has been a practicing licensed social worker for over a decade. With diverse experience in settings such as health promotion, foster care, youth homelessness, outpatient mental health & addictions, and student support services, Aven currently serves as a Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services, managing a Live-In-Treatment Program and three outpatient treatment programs. Maintaining a part-time private practice, Aven’s multidisciplinary and integrative approach focuses on trauma and resilience among under-served communities.

June Price Tangney, Ph.D

Dr. Tangney received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. She is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology at George Mason. She is a Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and of APA’s Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Tangney is coauthor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, coeditor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour, coeditor (with Jess Tracy and Richard Robins) of The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, and coeditor (with Mark Leary) of the Handbook of Self and Identity. She has served as Associate Editor for Self and Identity, Consulting Editor for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Assessment, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Personality, and is currently Associate Editor of American Psychologist.

Her research on the development and implications of moral emotions has been funded by NIDA, NICHD, NSF, and the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, her work focuses on moral emotions among incarcerated offenders. She draws on theory and research in psychology and criminology to develop novel interventions that leverage inmates’ moral emotions and prosocial values. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Tangney strives to integrate service, teaching and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.

Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN

Founder and Director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Christina T. Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition, which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy, to help prevent cravings and recurrent drug use. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Sean Bezdek, LMFT, MBA

Sean is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, in inpatient, PHP, and private practice. He holds b a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College.

Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”

Sean is the Program Director for Akua Mind Body’s Sacramento inpatient mental health program. His prior leadership experience includes oversight of acute inpatient, utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health and skilled nursing. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care. This include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”