How many of us have referred to this time as “the new normal”? As our lives change, the way that we provide care has changed, too. Several CHI Saint Joseph Health employees have found creative ways to reach their respective communities, ensuring no one goes without the care or support they need during this difficult time. One of the ways CHI Saint Joseph Health has stepped up to support the community’s health is through virtual visits.
“We have seen the number of virtual visits grow since we began offering virtual visits in late March as an option for patients to help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Viren S. Bavishi, DO, president of CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group. “While our practices have reopened, we continue to offer virtual visits as an additional option for our patients.”
Virtual visits, conducted through Zoom, allow patients to see their health care providers via a smartphone, tablet or computer. It helps patients stay connected with their providers to stay on top of routine medical care for chronic conditions as well as preventive care.
“While virtual visits can’t replace every visit to your physician, patients can address some of their health care needs via telehealth,” Dr. Bavishi said. “Maintaining good health is vital, especially during a pandemic.”
For the Kids
Hannah Woggon, violence prevention coordinator with CHI Saint Joseph Health in Lexington, offers summer camps for elementary school kids. Woggon’s work focuses on providing safe spaces for kids and families in the community, and for several years, the Consolidated Summer Enrichment Program has been an integral part of this mission. Seeing as this was not our average summer, Woggon had to rethink how she would provide activities for children in the community when camp was no longer an option. Her solution was partnering with Consolidated Baptist Church to create activity boxes for kids to pick up and take home, coupled with virtual classes for kids to interact with volunteers. Kids picked up their boxes each Friday, and activities began online the next Monday. They could choose from a wide variety of topics, such as science experiments and art projects. This allowed kids to interact with their peers and stay busy during the summer months without risking their health.
“During times of crisis, those who need the most help often don’t receive it,” Woggon said. “When the need of our community increases, our efforts must increase, as well.”
Similarly, Mollie Harris, LSW, violence prevention coordinator with CHI Saint Joseph Health in Saint Joseph London, also saw the needs of her community increase during the pandemic. She leads the Nurturing Children Program, which focuses on reducing child abuse and fatalities in children under the age of 4.
“Our parenting classes are about teaching parents how to increase bonding and have empathy for their child,” Harris said. “Before the pandemic, we provided in-person visits, parenting groups and in-office classes.”
Providing online parenting classes proved beneficial. Harris saw an increase in parent involvement, and many parents are attending online classes with children at their side. The number of families attending classes and referrals have also increased.
“I’ve been proud of our ability to adapt and give families the support they need,” Harris said.
Both programs are funded through the CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations.
Together in Spirit
Many of us feel isolated during this time, but for patients receiving cancer treatment, the lack of communication can be especially difficult. Martha Keys, MSW, OSW-C, and Ellie Cook, MSSW, CSW, social workers at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care in Lexington, moved their monthly and weekly cancer support groups to Zoom the first week of April. Both found that online support groups helped patients feel more supported and less alone. Now that patients did not have to leave their homes for their support group, both women saw an increase in the number of attendees.
“The ladies in the Rosie Ring, our women’s support group, had an incredible response, and we started meeting weekly instead of bimonthly,” Cook said. “This has been a great way for them to connect with people and share their experiences.”
“Our men’s prostate cancer support group has had a similar experience, and they’ve been very supportive of each other,” Keys said. “In a way, that’s been our silver lining. I don’t know if we would have tried online support groups before.”
Keys and Cook will continue to offer the option to join in-person groups through Zoom. For many patients, meeting on Zoom overcomes the transportation barrier in-person groups may have.
Here for You
None of us know when things will return to normal, but that does not mean we have to weather this storm alone. We will continue to meet the community’s needs as the times change, whether that be through virtual health visits or online communities.
Virtual visits can help you and your family stay well without leaving home. New and returning patients can schedule a virtual visit by calling 844.611.6877.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.