Telehealth helps a mother connect with her child during pandemic

Penny Quist and her son

A single mom of six kids living in Ephrata, Penny, has experienced one health crisis after another. Despite these challenges Penny’s family has remained close. “I mean we have had some pretty serious stuff, we were frequent flyers at Children’s [Hospital] and there is no way we could have gotten through that without Apple Health,” Penny said.

When Garrett, Penny’s 17-year-old, experienced a behavioral health crisis that put his and his loved one’s safety at risk, it put stress on the entire family. This was the beginning of a two-year journey to get him the behavioral health care that he needed. “A child in crisis is a family in crisis,” Penny said. Living in rural Grant County, Penny and her family had to drive hours for the counseling appointments for Garrett’s mental health treatment.

With Apple Health coverage, Garrett is able to receive inpatient treatment at the Child Study Treatment Center (CSTC) in Lakewood. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Penny made an eight-hour round trip every week to visit her son. Penny is immunocompromised and had to consider her own health and well-being of her family. Although heartbroken, Penny had to make the decision, that due to the COVID-19 risk, she would no longer be able to visit her son in person.

Telehealth services have allowed Penny to manage her family’s health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a call with Health Care Authority (HCA) behavioral health team and community partners, she expressed how COVID-19 was impacting her family. On the call Penny shared she no longer had face to face contact with Garrett which she felt was vital to his recovery. HCA addressed Penny’s concern by donating laptops to CSTC. This gave parents the ability to connect with their kids during this time.

Penny and Garrett now video chat once a week. “I get to physically see my child and that means a lot,” Penny said. “To just see him and physically see that he’s okay, that’s huge.”

Now that Penny’s older children have become adults, they have applied for Apple Health coverage on their own. They said it was easy to apply and the customer service staff who walk you through the process over the phone are very kind.

If you or your family need behavioral health services, you can apply for health coverage 24/7 online at

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