DIRECTOR’S DESK CHRISTINA R. GHALY, MD DIRECTOR
This moment, a year into our ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic, holds mixed emotions for so many of us. On the one hand, the availability of the vaccine brings a much needed sense of hope and relief. On the other hand, much work remains ahead for us until we will be able to return to doing ‘normal’ things we’ve missed, like reuniting with family and friends, traveling, or dropping our children at school. And the work of caring for patients during a pandemic will be with us for some time as well. So, in order for us to continue the healing and life-saving work we do for others, it is important that we begin to find ways to heal ourselves.
What does that mean for how we cultivate healing at DHS, for ourselves and for each other? One way, I believe, is to acknowledge that the challenges, and in many cases the traumas, of this pandemic, will require all of us to do some healing. That will mean different things for each of us, and I look forward to hearing your ideas about how we can heal together at DHS.
As I reflect on the theme of healing, I am reminded of the Hippocratic Oath of medicine, which states, ‘First, do no harm.’ From this perspective, there is one thing that each of us can do to prevent any further harm: get the coronavirus vaccine. It’s the single biggest thing you can do (in conjunction with masking and social distancing) to protect yourself and others from infection right now. It is hard feeling helpless in the face of a global pandemic, but getting the vaccine, and encouraging others to get vaccinated, is something that each of us has the power to do, and it can save lives.
If vaccinating is an active step towards healing, I’d also offer that there’s something we can, and must, do, that is perhaps more quiet and reflective, and that is to remember. Remember the people we’ve lost during this past year. All of us know, or know of, someone who has died from the coronavirus. Patients, colleagues, family members, friends. We need to remember them, celebrate their lives, and mourn their loss. Remembering those we’ve lost can also help to ground us in a sense of purpose: we continue to care and serve every day because we want to do our part to help end this pandemic, and save as many lives as we can. This work of remembering will sometimes happen publicly and visibly, and at other times in solitary moment of recollection. Whatever remembrance means to you, please know you are not alone in your grief, and that all of us need time and space to honor those whom we’ve lost.
The work each of you have been performing at DHS throughout this pandemic is nothing short of heroic. Healing sometimes needs to start with being seen, and I want you to know that I see you. I see your commitment, hard work, and sacrifice. I see the extra effort, the teamwork, and the flexibility that all of you are exhibiting that have helped us provide extraordinary care to the patients and communities we serve. I know you are doing this while experiencing enormous stress yourselves, and I want to reiterate my gratitude for all of your contributions. Each of you chose to be part of DHS because you care deeply about serving communities and patients, and helping others. And each of you, in turn, needs to be able count on your organization to help take care of you. That is our commitment. Please continue to support each other, and know that you have my full support and profound appreciation as well.
As we manage the balancing act of both fighting this pandemic and keeping ourselves and each other well, I hope this special issue of the Pulse, with articles and resources on cultivating wellness and beginning the process of healing, is helpful to you. Thank you for all that you do.
Healing from Loss and GriefHealing from Loss and Grief https://dhs.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/healing.jpg 799 532 Health Services Los Angeles County https://dhs.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/healing.jpg
As part of our job, and in our personal lives, there has been transition, loss, and grief, particularly over the last year. Having an emotional response to grief and loss is normal, and can range from numbing to anger to sadness to isolation, or even include, “I am too busy to feel things right now”. Grief can be unexpected and unpredictable as everyone experiences loss differently. How you cope with loss and grief is individual and may vary day to day. Each day allows us to work towards healing. Here are some resources and general coping strategies that may help you process feelings of loss or grief.learn more
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In our fight against Covid-19 our best weapon is vaccination. Currently DHS staff have priority access to an mRNA vaccine which is 95% effective at preventing disease and 100% effective at stopping hospitalizations; an outcome which is particularly resonant for healthcare workers experienced in a surge. With Covid-19 being the leading cause of death in the US our focus should be on the decisions we can make to end this pandemic.learn more