On a Wednesday night in April, CHEST Women and Pulmonary Advisory Board hosted a virtual happy hour that was not just a webinar but also on Facebook Live, entitled Wellness Wednesday. During the 2-hour event, the hosts of the happy hour exchanged experiences during the pandemic, thoughts, hopes, and some very practical ideas on how to stay well in the midst of the pandemic. I was thrilled to co-host this event with Drs. Aneesa Das, Doreen Addrizzo-Harris, Margaret Pisani, Michele Cao, and Rachel Quaney.
We started off toasting with whatever drink people chose to have and each member shared what she was doing during the pandemic. There were many amazing stories of how these women adapted to the changing environment. Dr. Addrizzo-Harris told us how she and her husband literally split their apartment in half since they work in different hospitals and did not want to risk infecting not just one another but also their respective patients. Both she and her husband were working long shifts and most days of the week in the hospital and had not really seen each other since the lockdown started in New York. She also gave us an update on the pandemic and response in New York and reiterated her appreciation for health-care providers who came from elsewhere to help. Drs. Das and Quaney made a point to say that Ohio had done a great job planning for and preventing an onslaught of infected patients and that they were quite thankful to be able to do virtual visits and keep up with their patients.
With regards to work, a few panelists described not only the change in the hospital census and environment but also the impact on education for everyone. We shared ideas for keeping up with pulmonary and critical care that were not related to COVID-19 and ways to not feel overwhelmed by it. I mentioned that we kept our weekly clinical case conference for non-COVID cases and that our fellows and faculty found it refreshing and reinvigorating. Dr. Quaney, who is still in training, mentioned the impact the pandemic had on her education but was also thankful for all that was being done to mitigate that.
While several of us were going into the hospitals and working with COVID-19 patients, others were working from home. It may seem like that would be low stress but think about the challenges of doing virtual visits from home while young children are running around! Dr. Cao gave us a few stories about this and made us all laugh.
So much has changed in our lives and what we must do to care for ourselves, our families, and our patients. On this topic, many of the panelists mentioned that self-care is imperative, as well as all the other things we do. Many shared what they do to remain calm and to relieve stress, such as yoga, hiking, calls with friends and family, etc. Dr. Pisani in particular mentioned the importance of self-care while also lamenting that we have gone backwards with regard to delirium prevention in the ICU due to the isolation needed for COVID 19 patients.
The laughter and camaraderie amongst the panelist extended to the online participants. We had over 2,400 viewers either on Facebook live or via the webinar link! Many people who joined us asked questions or shared stories of how they were coping and what they miss about the pre-pandemic life. Most agreed that the lack of interpersonal interaction, especially with friends and family, has been difficult and that something as simple as this virtual happy hour was a welcome addition to all the other online meetings and patient visits. After the event, many online participants reached out personally and via social media to express how much they enjoyed it and hopes that we continue something like this going forward. I believe we all agreed at least a quarterly Wednesday Wellness event would be great, so I hope you will join us next time!