Page 44 - BusinessWest January 20, 2021
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 Pandemic to be edu- Continued from page 8 cated on why
it’s impor- tant to step back and take time for their own needs —
but they also often need permission, especially men, who are quicker than women to dismiss the need for self-care. They’ll find that encouragement at Be Vital Wellness.
“They think, ‘I’m tough; I just need to tough this out,’” Wilburn said. “Women are better at it, but everyone needs permission.”
Don’t Ignore the Signs
While mental-health concerns have certainly been at the forefront lately, Kenton said it’s also important not to neglect physical health, especially when symp- toms of serious problems arise.
“Looking back to March and April, we shut every- thing down and told patients that, unless they abso- lutely need to be in the Emergency Department, do not come,” he explained, noting that many patients use the ER as primary care because they lack a pri- mary-care provider or health insurance. “We saw the wave in New York, then Boston, and we didn’t know what we were in for, so the message was, don’t come to the ER unless you’re sick.”
It worked — Mercy’s ER traffic fell from a daily average of around 225 to 110, with a low point of 72. And that caused concerns of a different kind.
“Before long, we were all wondering, where did the appendicitis go? Where did the heart attacks go? We started to worry that patients with symptoms were staying home, or coming in after four days of symptoms, and by then it’s really bad.”
By summer, ER volumes gradually rose again, but many patients still feared coming to the hospital — and still do — despite the safety measures in place
to separate COVID-19 patients from those who have not been exposed. With elective surgeries being cur- tailed again and patients having trouble seeing their primary-care doctors in person — though telehealth is better than nothing — “there are a lot of challenges for patients trying to navigate the healthcare system right now,” Kenton said.
The challenges for kids and teenagers, on the other hand, have resided almost completely in the realm of mental and emotional health.
“We’re definitely seeing the impact on children,” Navarro said. “I’ve heard a lot of parents say to me, ‘my child is failing all their classes. They can’t concen- trate.’ I’ve had children I work with talk about how there’s just too much, there’s not a break, there’s not
a way to leave a home that maybe is having some turmoil — not being able to get a break from all that. They’re not going to school and having any socializa- tion with friends. Yes, they see them through Zoom, but they’re not able to have those close conversa- tions, the play time, those moments of friendship.”
One key, she said, is to keep kids connected, somehow, to other people, even if it’s just family, and don’t let them suffer in silence.
“I tell parents all the time, ‘talk to them. Have those conversations. Talk to them about what is going on, how they can cope with their feelings in an age- appropriate way.’”
For anyone struggling in any way — adults or chil- dren — it can be helpful to seek professional help. “Even with the smallest amount of anxiety, it does not hurt to talk to someone, whether it’s a professional or
But when do you actually have the opportunity to tell someone how you really are? What do we usually say? ‘I’m good. Things are fine.’ But are they really?
a friend or family member you trust,” Navarro said. “To talk about our feelings helps us gain control over them. Just talk to someone.”
MHA launched a program a couple of years ago called “Start Talking,” which promoted the impor- tance of starting a conversation on mental-health concerns.
“Sometimes, when we just start talking to some- one we trust — or, for some people, it may be a stranger they feel most comfortable talking to — when we start having a dialogue, we see how many things start coming up,” Burgess said, adding that holding these feelings in often causes them to fester and build, compounding anxiety and depression in the long run.
“People ask every day, ‘how are you?’” Navarro noted. “But when do you actually have the opportunity to tell someone how you really are? What do we usually say? ‘I’m good. Things are fine.’ But are they really?”
Most people have no problem talking about their physical pain — an aching back, for example — but
feel stigmatized when it comes to discussing their emotional wellness, Burgess added. But if there was ever a time to push past that barrier, the era of COVID-19 is it.
“Every single person in the world is being impact- ed by this on some level. This is something we’re all collaboratively experiencing and going through — at different degrees for different people, of course. So, how do we manage a continuation of something many of us thought would end in April?”
Talking about it, she said, is a good place to begin.
With social-distancing regulations in place, tele- health has been a tremendous help for providers and clients in her field, she added, as it has helped clients continue critical conversations. One patient even kept an appointment while on vacation in Aruba because she didn’t want to miss one.
“I’m grateful for the ability to provide services this way,” Navarro added. “If we weren’t, it would be a very difficult world.”
Journey to Wellness
Many clients at Be Vital Wellness are folks who deal with crisis every day — firefighters, police offi- cers, doctors, nurses, EMTs — and who have grap- pled with their own rising anxiety and depression during an unprecedented year.
“PTSD is definitely a thing for anyone in crisis care. They often don’t realize there are other options besides pharmaceuticals, and that they can increase their quality of life, decrease their stress, and decrease their anxiety,” Wilburn said, although she and Nas- cimento encourage clients to see their primary-
care doctors regularly too, as part of a network of treatment.
“I feel like, in America, most people have depres- sion or anxiety or both, and COVID has only upped the ante on all those things,” Wilburn noted. “People who previously didn’t struggle with those things are struggling with those things. I just saw a woman this morning — she’s dealing with severe depression, and we’re talking about getting into therapy.
“We’re not a one-stop shop,” she added. “People come to us and say, ‘help me with my weight loss,’ but then they realize there are a lot of other things they can get support around, and it becomes truly wellness.”
In this unsettled time, that’s a goal worth striving for — and talking about. u
People ask every day, ‘how are you?
Continued from page 10
for a fraction of what they would have paid for that type of home in the Bos- ton area.”
While real-estate sales have been brisk across Western Mass., Franklin County has been particularly robust. Szynal shared statistics from October that compared sales among Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Total sales for all three were up 9.2%, while in Franklin County alone, sales increased more than 32%. She credits that growth to a number of factors, including the affordability of housing and an active arts and culture scene.
“If you have the ability to work remotely,” she asked, “why not relocate to somewhere that is beautiful and more affordable?”
Downtown Vision
Wilson’s Department Store, a main- stay in Greenfield for more than a century, wrapped up its final sales and closed last February. While that came as sad news to many, Wedegartner and Adams are hopeful about interest in the building from Green Fields Market, the grocery store run by the Franklin Community Co-op. While Green Fields representatives have not committed to the Wilson’s site, they have shown an interest in locating downtown.
“I would love to keep the co-op downtown,” Adams said. “A grocery store where you have residents living is an important part of a livable, walkable downtown.”
A former brownfield site, the Lunt Silversmith property has been cleaned up and will be available for redevel-
opment later this year. The site is
near what Adams called “the recovery healthcare campus” where Behavioral Health Network and a number of other social-service agencies provide care and support for people in recovery.
Another redevelopment project involves the First National Bank build- ing across from the town common. Adams said the initial vision was to make the building an arts and cultural space. After studying that as a possibil- ity, it now appears that’s not going to happen.
The building is important, Adams noted, because it provides a face to the town common. “While the First National Bank building won’t be what we originally hoped it would be, our challenge is to figure out the right use for it.”
Just before COVID-19 hit, Adams
Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]
and her team conducted a survey of residents and businesses to help define the future of downtown Greenfield. The large number of responses from both residents and businesses impressed even the survey consultants.
“The high rate of return on the sur- veys speaks to people’s interest and engagement of what our future will look like,” Adams said.
As people start receiving the vac- cine, she believes the region will be able to put the coronavirus era in the rear-view mirror fairly soon.
“I’m a planner, so it’s exciting that there is a plan to get people vaccinated and that we are headed in the right direction,” she said.
Which would finally get the city off that pause button — and into ‘go’ mode. u
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