Recent discussions with social workers from six different disciplines around the country centered around the lasting effects this dreadful pandemic has had on their constituents. Everyone agreed that the novel coronavirus and associated diseases have caused unprecedented - disruption.
Perhaps with the exception of the travel and leisure industry, the pandemic has disrupted education more than any other area of American public life. From university boards to pre-school administrators, everyone is confused and not sure how to proceed. Parents are desperate to understand how they should continue to best educate their children.
The COVID-19 inoculation program rolled out by federal and state governments has been nothing short of life saving for the entire country. In the U.S. at least, we are on the way to beating back the deadliest viral pandemic in history. Hospitalizations and deaths are both dwindling. But social workers tell us that the COVID-19 virus has inflicted long-lasting social and psychic effects on our society.
Not long ago, addiction recovery meant signing in to a “rehab”, attending daily meetings with your peers, intensive face-to-face therapy sessions with an addiction therapist, and reading the Big Book to guide you along the 12-Step path. The recovery process could take months or even years before the addict or alcoholic was declared ready to go it alone. Then, the pandemic.
As tele-health becomes more prevalent in the delivery of behavioral health services during this ongoing pandemic, tomorrow’s new normal will be much more virtual than yesterdays. Even after the pandemic, services will be a combination of tele-health and in-person.
Behavioral health clinicians, now operating screen-to-screen rather than face-to-face, realized they needed guidance on engagement, assessment, intervention, and the legal and ethical considerations necessary when setting up and implementing tele-behavioral health. However, they did not foresee the hidden dangers of "Zoom Fatigue".
Whether we're threatened by the second or the third spike of this persistent and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, parents are again faced with school closings and re-openings that have them confused and in doubt. Is their child better off at home being schooled on-line or attending their local brick and mortar school with their classmates and teachers?
Goodbye 2020...Bring on 2021
2020 will always be remembered as the year of the COVID- 19 pandemic. Not since the mid 14th century, when the Black Plague decimated one third of Europe’s population killing 75 million people and ushering in the Dark Ages, has the human race experienced such a natural disaster.
Although the annual turning of the calendar page is only an artifice, one year giving way to the next seems to instill hope in the human heart. We make New Year's resolutions. We look forward to better times. We use our goals and desires for the new year to obliterate the past year's disappointments and pain. We believe the future will be better than the past. We have hope.
Meals On Wheels, which delivers meals to the elderly in their homes and at senior centers, has seen demand for their services explode since the pandemic started.
- When COVID-19 hit, a staggering 89% of Meals On Wheels programs reported increased demand for meals, practically overnight.
- 79% of Meals On Wheels programs saw their demand double.
- Older adults who were mobile prior to the pandemic can no longer safely go to stores to buy their own food, and many do not have loved ones close by to help them through this time. Add this to the roster of seniors who were already homebound.
During this national crisis, child welfare agencies are struggling to balance their mission to protect children from abuse and neglect with their duty to protect their workforce. The vast majority of children involved in child welfare cases live at home. Parents are often ordered to participate in certain programs (or requested to do so voluntarily), while caseworkers make regular visits to check on the situation in the home.
The letter below from a young nurse to her grandmother touches on the painful separation from one another we all feel that has caused our country’s uneven response to, and resulting suffering from, this terrible pandemic.
Ellen is a 31-year-old nurse working in a Seattle intensive care unit for the past six months watching Covid patients die alone. She sat down after her shift one night and wrote this letter to her grandmother, who she hadn’t visited in more than a year.
I think this thoughtful young woman captures the suffering that social separation can cause. With her permission, I publish her touching letter below...