Reno Problem Gambling Center helping clients through telehealth

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Reno Problem Gambling Center (RPGC) is helping recovering addicts through telehealth. The center said it closed its doors to protect their clients, team, and community from the spread of COVID-19.

Telehealth is a joint effort between the center and Project Worth, which connects addicts with services and counseling centers.

RPGC has offered telehealth in the past, but wasn’t popular. According to RPGC’s Denise Quirk before the pandemic less than 10% of their clients were using telehealth.

During the first week of closures Quirk said she saw an initial jump of 80%.

Quirk said Nevada has triple the national average of gamblers. “Gambling historically, unfortunately is bigger in Nevada than in other states because of the exposure and the access.”

Quirk said Telehealth is vital for recovering addicts who may now face additional stressors, such as the loss of a job or increased isolation during the pandemic.

"We see the importance of keeping a link, with their health care provider as being extremely important, if a person already had a connection with their doctor, their therapist, their psychiatrist, and that link gets interrupted it can be disturbing."

According to Quirk telehealth via Zoom is HIPPA safe and confidential.

"Many of my clients are describing the positive benefits, that they do not have to travel, they can simply close themselves in a private room."

She continued, "It might be in the future that we see more people through telehealth, simply because they are finding that it works for them."

The counseling sessions are free or at a very low cost. The center will continue to offer Telehealth until further notice.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020