Boynton should reconsider fees

Patients of Boynton Health Service’s Dental Clinic, Massage Therapy Clinic or Mental Health Clinic are subject to penalties if they cancel an appointment too late or don’t show up at all.

Dentistry patients are put on probation if they miss two appointments in three years. People who show up late or miss appointments for a massage, a non-essential service, still have to pay the full session’s fee.

The Mental Health Clinic, however, is treated differently from other indispensable services. Cancelling an appointment too late incurs a $10 fee, and missing one without notice means a $20 fee. If patients do either of these twice in a row or for three appointments within six months, they’ll have a scheduling hold placed on their accounts.

The clinic’s patients, who may already be in a tenuous state of mental health, don’t need the added stress from potential fees or cutoffs from care.

Many people with mental health issues still face barriers when deciding whether to seek care — including social stigma, poor public understanding of mental health conditions or a general distaste for seeking help. While it’s important for Boynton to enact measures that keep clinics running efficiently, we feel it’s questionable to charge a fee that could discourage patients from getting professional help.

Boynton has recently taken great strides to improve mental health care, including opening a St. Paul clinic, adding staff and cutting down on wait times for appointments.

However, Boynton’s leadership should consider whether these small fees are worth their potential pitfalls.