COVID-19: Academy Members Support Each Other

IN THIS ISSUE: Mass Shooting | COVID-19: Listserv  | Diary from the Hotspot  | Neuropsychiatry | Residency Videos

The COVID-19 crisis arrived abruptly mid-March. Since then, Academy members have come together in a dramatic collegial outpouring of ideas and plans. Visit our COVID-19 website pages for content already featured, how to sign up for our listserv, and how to send us your submissions.

“Together We Will Prevail”

Submissions from Academy members help drive COVID-19 fightback

Well over 300 submissions have been posted on the Academy’s COVID-19@LIST.CLPSYCHIATRY.ORG listserv to date. It has approaching 700 subscribers.

Topics have included new modes of consult service operation, telephone and audiovisual technology for remote consultation, delirium and agitation, standards for protective gear, ethical issues, and much more.

A cumulative digest covering March 26 to April 10 is posted on the COVID-19 Resources Page, and the Academy’s Education Committee is currently preparing a further digest.

There are three web pages of member-submitted content:

The COVID-19 Resources Page—contains more than 60 items. The Reports from The Field section includes reports, policy guidelines, and other documents from many different centers. Additional sections cover Educational Resources; Support for Medical Providers; Telepsychiatry and Remote Consultation Technology; and Patient Communication and Palliative Care.

The COVID-19 Links Page—presents Upcoming Events; Clinical Information; Organizational Websites; Telepsychiatry, Videoconferencing and Remote Patient Care; Psychological Reactions and Supportive Resources; Annotated Articles from the ACLP; System Responses and Planning; Ethical Considerations; and Epidemiology.

The COVID-19 Stories Page—invites 55-word stories about Academy members’ experiences in the COVID-19 crisis. “We hope this will offer a means of reflecting and sharing,” says Education Committee chair, Paul Desan, MD, PhD, FACLP.

Content to date

“To give an example of the range of content that has come from Academy members, many submissions recently have explored how best to support our medical colleagues on the frontlines,” says Dr. Desan.

On the COVID-19 Resources Page, Michael Blumenfeld, MD, FACLP, notes that Critical Incident Stress Debriefing—encouraging responders to share distressing experiences shortly after an event—is not helpful but hurtful, and he gives pointers for more appropriate group interventions.

Damir Huremović, MD, MPP, FAPA, FACLP, discusses Balint groups, developed to aid primary care doctors in relating to their patients, now operating in a very different context (also see Diary from the Hotspot, this issue.)

Dr. Huremović, as well as Töres Theorell, MD, PhD, emphasize that supporting sensible work schedules, clear policies, adequate protective gear, and other procedural arrangements are equally important in protecting staff well-being—manifestly within our liaison role.

Charles Hebert, MD, and Ms Kathryn Perticone, APRN, MSW, describe an impressive commitment to wellness at their institution, where volunteer mental health professionals staff wellness rooms on COVID-19 medical units.

Sanjeev Sockalingam, MD, FRCPC, FACLP, offers a different approach based on the ECHO model—health care providers are offered twice-weekly online conferences for education and support.

Tanya Murtha, MD, MPH, and Andrea Asnes, MD, MSW, provide a compact outline for debriefing sessions that are constructive and positive. Michael Sharpe, MD, FACLP, and Simon Prangnell, DClinPsych, argue for a multi-tier model of support, depending on the need of the individual staff member.

In the Educational Resources section, Carrie Ernst, MD, adds suggestions about maintaining morale among trainees.

The COVID-19 Links Page features collections of wellness resources from Massachusetts General Hospital, Loyola University, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, and Emory University; resources for psychological first aid; happiness apps; striking first-person frontline stories in New York City hospitals from Slate magazine; sleep medicine tips; and research on health care provider psychological reactions.

Also included are an award-winning free course in happiness; an announcement about a seven-day-a-week physician support line run by 600 volunteer psychiatrists; an update about TopGun Peer Support; a WeChat intervention to support providers in Wuhan, China; and more.

“All of this is content from Academy members in just the last four weeks, in just one of the topic areas we cover,” says Dr. Desan, who has been co-ordinating the COVID-19 content with Education Committee vice chair Ann Schwartz, MD, FACLP, and members of the committee.

They add: “One of the 55-word stories succinctly captures our appreciation of the work of our colleagues.”

The Psychiatric Inpatient Unit during COVID

The attending is supervising from home. Best to stay safe.

The resident is rounding by iPad. Best to stay safe.

The social worker is interviewing by iPhone. Best to stay safe.

Psychotherapy provided by Zoom. Best to stay safe.

The nurse is with the patient. Need more be said?

Attending physician, April 14, 2020

“Please keep your posts and submissions coming. Together we will prevail.”


Board to Convene Task Force on COVID-19 Learning

The ACLP Board is convening a task force on learning from COVID-19. The aim broadly is to:

  • Summarize what we have learned from experience and what changes in working have occurred.
  • Decide which of these changes we wish to keep.
  • Plan how to make these changes sustainable.

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