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Encourage Responsible Holiday Behavior in your Patients

By: Dr.Chelsia Bhatti

The Holiday season of 2020 is going to be like no other holiday time in history that any of us has ever experienced. COVID-19 started many months ago, and unfortunately, we have entered a resurgence of COVID cases across the country recently-and this time it is everywhere, not just in pockets. In fact, November saw  3 million new cases reported across the US. Despite the dire statistics and the urging of all health authorities for everyone to stay put over the thanksgiving weekend, it had been reported that several days even before Thanksgiving, already millions of people had reportedly boarded airline flights for holiday travel.

One of the main reasons cited for this is that people have been cooped up for months at home and are getting tired. They want to be able to live life, travel, get back to normal even if it risks contracting COVID-19.

Why This Attitude?

Many people do not really understand the potential severity of Coronavirus. It sounds crazy after this many months and so many deaths, but many people have not seen or experienced it first hand, or know anyone who has been impacted by it, so they do not realize the consequences of contracting the virus. Oftentimes they hear of people having only mild symptoms and it doesn’t seem so bad to them. Many people simply have an avoidance philosophy-or what I call the “Head in the Sand” philosophy. They feel that if they carry on like normal and just avoid the issue, somehow the issue will go away.

So what is a provider or medical practice supposed to do? Being at the front lines of healthcare, patients look to their healthcare providers for advice and guidance. How can you foster good compliance and adherence to COVID safety regulations amongst your patient population, especially as we approach the holidays? Here are some tips to manage a successfully healthy holiday season in your organization.

Education is Key

It is true that Coronavirus affects each person differently. Some experience minimal to moderate symptoms and recover quickly, while others develop symptoms that can linger for some time. Still, others can develop a very grave and fatal course. There are just too many variables that could put any person on any varying degree of the spectrum. It is important to relay to the patient that younger age and lack of pre-existing health issues do not preclude one from getting a severe form of the virus or death. Viral dose, your own immune system response, and other unknown variables are factors that we can not predict and once you catch the virus, you simply do not know how your body will respond. Also, patients need to be educated on the fact that COVID-19 does have the capability to cause long term inflammatory and immune function effects that can be staggering and persistent.

Digital Tools to Keep in Touch with Family and Friends

We are very lucky to live in a time where we can see and speak to our family and friends across a plethora of digital platforms. While it is true that nothing can really replace in-person hugs and happy moments, there are several choices of apps and online services to keep in touch with loved ones while hunkered down at home. Here is a great list to pass on to your patients that they can consider trying:

  • WhatsApp: This is a great app to message, video chat, or call virtually anyone across the globe. It is an encrypted site that ensures your conversations remain private. It can be used for iOS, Android, or on your computer.
  • Skype: Once you create an account, you can send texts, videos, pictures, as well as make calls to anyone who also has a Skype account. This can also be downloaded for use on iOS, Android, or on your computer.
  • Google Hangouts: Anyone who has a Gmail account can use this to make Google Hangouts video calls.
  • Netflix Party: The features of this are synchronizing playback and offering a group chat feature that allows you to watch movies and TV with your friends and family. The limitation of this is that you can only use Netflix Party in Chrome browsers on desktops and laptops.
  • Collaborative Spotify playlists: Connecting with friends can also include enjoying music together. Spotify allows you to create a playlist together. Through a collaborative playlist, you and your friends can add and listen to all of your favorite songs anytime you want.
  • Steam: With more than 30,000 video games, 90 million active users, and social features like friends lists and in-game message and voice chat capabilities, Steam is one of the best online gaming services. With no subscription fee and online multiplayer games ranging from as little as $5 to more than $60, it’s a great option for friends who want to play a game together. Steam also offers Remote Play Together, which allows you to share a game you’re playing at home with up to four friends remotely. This feature streams video, audio, and voice between players, making it even easier to hop on and play with your friends.

Tapping into Human Altruism

Deep down, the human spirit is altruistic in nature. We are selfless when it comes to our loved ones and look out for the greater good for those around us. Tapping into this when it comes to this COVID crisis may be just what your patients need. A gentle reminder that though staying at home this holiday season may seem unthinkable, or no matter how stir crazy one may feel, if we each do our part, we can prevent those around us from getting sick. If we make the sacrifice now to do the right thing, we can sooner curb the spread and get back to normal as soon as possible. It’s this indomitable human spirit that will get us all through this, and who knows? Maybe by next holiday season, we’ll all be able to join again for festivities – what’s certain is that we will savor and appreciate each and every moment from that time on that we spend with those we love.

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Syrina Fields