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March 2020: Face-to-Face Requirement, Baltimore Training Postponed

Baltimore SAP Training is postponed to July 10-11

The update training scheduled for April 24-25 has been moved to July 10-11.
Go to EAPA SAP Website

DOT has not changed the face-to-face requirement—not even temporarily during this crisis.

SAPs are asking if DOT has made an exception to 40.291’s requirement of a face-to-face initial assessment and follow-up evaluation of each employee.  The answer is no.
Since this is a law, I don’t need to elaborate.  But I will.
The current health crisis is affecting the entire world.  Everyone is being inconvenienced, some more than others. A DOT-covered employee with a drug/alcohol violation is no exception.  And not being assessed immediately, or not having a follow-up evaluation immediately, is one of those inconveniences during this crisis.
Things are changing daily, as everyone makes personal decisions related to their health and safety.  Restaurants are closing.  Schools have closed.  Government offices have closed.  Sunday sermons were on Facebook Live.  Non-essential businesses have either shut down completely or are on reduced hours. 
In the health care sector, some SAPs in private practice have closed their office for the time being.  For others, clinics that SAPs work for have shut down.  Unfortunately, clients who are in the middle of a return-to-duty process will simply have to wait it out.  For those clients, this is an added consequence of their violation.
You may discover that your go-to treatment providers are closed.  Some drug education programs have already shut down.  Residential treatment programs may decide to not accept new clients for the next month or two, depending.  The ripple effect of the crisis will go on and on.
In the face of these shutdowns and closings, there is little justification for putting yourself at significant risk just so that an employee can look for a new job.  We should all be mindful of Dr. Anthony Fouci’s haunting question in an interview yesterday, “How much do you value your own life?”
It’s important that you maintain high standards for the return-to-duty process.  This is no time to downgrade your recommendation to accommodate changes in the treatment community.  As a SAP you are still responsible for protecting public safety.  The goal of your treatment recommendation is still for the employee to stop using illegal drugs.
But more than that, this is a time when you need to protect your own health, and the health of those around you.  Don’t even think about meeting a client in a coffee shop, where you will put yourself and others at risk.
People are being told to protect themselves, and that includes you.  Do not take changes with your health. And you are under no obligation to bend the rules so an employee can get back to work (if the job even exists).  The nation is shutting down for good reason.  Be careful.  And sing Happy Birthday while you wash your hands.
Here is the section about DOT's face-to-face requirement, from the "SAP Guidelines":
Can SAP evaluations be conducted telephonically or online?
SAP evaluations cannot be conducted telephonically or online.  Both the initial and follow-up SAP evaluations are clinical processes that must be conducted face-to-face.  Body language and appearance offer important physical cues vital to the evaluation process.  Tremors, needle marks, dilated pupils, exaggerated movements, yellow eyes, glazed or bloodshot eyes, lack of eye contact, a physical slowdown or hyperactivity, appearance, posture, carriage, and ability to communicate in person are vital components that cannot be determined telephonically or online.  In-person sessions carry with them the added advantage of the SAP's being able to provide immediate attention to individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others.

A driver has requested me to be his SAP, but he doesn’t show on my dashboard.  What can I do?

The first question I ask when this happens is:  Is it possible that you created two SAP records on the Clearinghouse, both of them with your name?
Here’s a story about that:  A SAP created a record, but then she couldn’t remember her password.  Rather than go through the rigmarole of “Forgot my password”, she decided to create a new record, using a different e-mail address, and a new password.  A driver requested her to be his SAP, but his request went to her original dashboard, and it wasn’t showing up on her new dashboard.
Only the Clearinghouse can fix that problem, and it took a while.  Moral of the story:  If you forget your password, don’t start over.  Click on “Forgot my password.”  More important moral of the story:  Write down your password and put it where you can easily find it.
And, if you visit your dashboard every day, you will learn that password by the end of the week.

When should I Accept or Reject a request from a driver?

Once you click the “Accept” button, the driver is your client--even though the two of you haven’t met yet.  There could be problems.
Scenario:  Driver calls you and sets up an appointment.  You tell the driver that your fee is $XXX and, that you require payment upfront, at the first visit.  The driver arrives with no money.  If you have a strict policy about not starting the assessment unless you have been paid, you could refuse to start the assessment.  But if you have already checked the Accept button on your dashboard, he is your client, and you probably need to start the assessment, not knowing if you will ever get paid.

You may want to consider setting up the appointment, and not clicking Accept until after the driver has shown up, and paid your upfront fee.  And until you are fairly certain that you are willing to work with him/her.  A SAP recently told me about an obnoxious, belligerent and uncooperative driver who arrived with no money, and who clearly had no intention to pay for SAP services.  The SAP hadn’t checked the Accept button, and she asked him to leave.

On a lighter note...

And, for your amusement at this stressful time, the New York Times reported this morning that orders for marijuana delivery services are seeing a sharp increase.  Get ready.  Some of those are laid-off or unemployed truck drivers.

SAPlist UREMINDER: SAPlist U For Your Continuing Ed Requirement

SAPlist U provides 12 hours of continuing education related to DOT's testing rules.  It is endorsed by EACC, NASW, and NBCC.  It’s online, convenient, and you can complete it at your own pace.

Go to SAPlist U Continuing Ed
Until next time,

Lee Mauk signature

Lee Mauk  | and SAPlist U
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