From there to here........
It was my 37th birthday, April 11, 2014, my then two-year-old son, Miles, was admitted into the hospital, he had lymph node in his neck that swelled up to the size of a golf ball overnight about a week before. His primary care physician prescribed antibiotics and suggested we call them if the swelling had not gone down, which it hadn't. Initially his physician suspected an infected lymph node, but Miles wasn’t malaise, he didn’t have a fever, he was active and had an appetite, all great signs, unless you are a parent desperately hoping this thing, on your child’s neck, is an infection and not lymphoma. My fears were not eased when he was admitted to the “Pediatric Oncology,” floor. A week later we learned that he had contracted a mico-bacterial Infection, also known as Atypical Tuberculosis, the infection had overwhelmed his lymph node and the tissue was dead. The infection was treatable by antibiotics, and he would have the lymph node removed. Unfortunately, the surgeon was not able to remove the lymph node because it was resting on an important bundle of nerves, if damaged would permanently deform my son. They performed a curettage that removed most of the tissue, the wound needed to heal from the inside out. A couple days before his second birthday, Miles was discharged with a sizable, but temporary, hole in his neck. The next day I called my employer and resigned. This was how I came to be a stay at home mom.
Heading home from surgery
Up until this point I had always worked outside of the home. My experience included Outpatient Clinician, Clinical Supervisor, Adjunct Instructor, and Professional Trainer in Motivational Interviewing and other evidence based practices. I often felt torn between my passion for the field of social work and behavioral health and my time at home with my family.
Miles was born two weeks early, I took a “full” maternity leave and returned to work three months after he was born. He was constantly sick, he was in daycare long days and a month prior to this story beginning he had broken his arm at the day care. I carried a lot of guilt for this, for his poor health, the lack of time I had with him, for him, and the lack of time he had at home in general. I struggled with the destructive dichotomy between doing the two things I was called to do, my career and my children.
I enjoyed the time I had with Miles over that summer. We built marble tracks, and made fake snow and puffy paint, he gardened with me, and I built him a sand box. We skated to the park and back almost every day, it was wonderful. After a few weeks of being home with Miles, I was offered a telebehavioral health position, it was amazing; however, the position was capped at ten hours a week and at that time the opportunities in telebehavioral health were extremely limited.
In the Spring of 2015, I joined a semi private practice and the chaos between work and home returned. Many of my patients were not able to meet during the day, so I would work into the night two or three nights a week and if parents wanted to bring their child into a therapy appointment in the evening, this one-hour session often became a 2-3-hour event for them. I was paying out 40% of what I was earning to overhead costs that mostly went to building space..
Miles and I
It was at this time that I started really paying attention to state and national polices on telehealth, I knew they would change and I knew this was the future of behavioral health. so I watched and waited for policy changes. Over the next year I researched telehealth policy, ethics and service delivery. I developed a business plan to start a telehealth practice and in March of 2016 Michigan Legislation changed allowing psychotherapy CPT codes to be billed by clinicians under telehealth.
September of 2016, As Within Behavioral Health Services opened it virtual doors. We were the first providers in the United States to offer services exclusively online and across state lines. We now operate in two states, Michigan and California and are also in network for the Veterans Choice Program which allows us to provide treatment to any U.S. veteran on foreign or domestic soil. In January of 2018 I changed the business name to Telebehavioral Health.US, became a Certified Woman Owned Mall Business and registered with the System for Award Management as United stated Federal Contractor. We are growing every day to further our mission of providing affordable, accessible, and evidence based behavioral health treatment to individuals throughout the United States.
Susie Morozowich, lmsw, lcsw