The coming of winter points to the chance of both influenza and the coronavirus to come together and overwhelm the medical system across America. “Resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges matters more than ever” was the final point made in a Globe column on emotional well-being of hospital patients’ published in today’s Boston Globe. Hospitals everywhere, including the one at which I consult, are starting to see more and more signs of stress and emotional reactivity among patients who are undergoing physical rehabilitation. Many people are feeling alone and isolated. I have been told that had they known that visitors were being limited they may have elected to forego the stop in rehab – often necessary after stroke, cardiac surgery, traumatic brain injury and many other physical afflictions.
Resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges matters more than everBoston Globe 9-20-20
Some people, including the CDC, are worried about the collision of the Coronavirus and the winter influenza and are strongly urging that we should all get the flu shot. Agreed. “New research in the Journal of Internal Medicine now shows a strong association between mental health symptoms and medical care avoidance according to Healthcare Finance. Many are worried about a resurgence in the Covid-19 and a worsening of the pandemic, now with 200,000 American lives lost. All these factors play on the collective psyche as we approach fall and winter and many are avoiding routine healthcare visits and elective procedures in hospital.
The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a snowy winter in the Northeast. We will see. But people tend to be indoors and hunkered down under normal conditions and the menacing threat of increased rates of Coronavirus infection can raise anxiety and make things worse. The rate of infection remains to be seen. Same goes for the upcoming influenza season beginning in December. What is known, and factual, is the need for social distancing, limiting the community spread by using face coverings and avoiding big crowds such as those currently being seen on college campuses everywhere. In Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, and elsewhere large parties on college campuses have seen spikes in cases of Covid-19. In Maine, a small wedding party of 25 resulted in the community spread to over 300 citizens and 7 deaths due to the coronavirus. None of the 7 deaths had attended the wedding. The virus does not care who is infected.
The anxiety and depression being felt in hospitals everywhere has to do with the loss of control and the uncertainty of the future health of Americans, the discovery of a vaccine, and re-establishing trust in the science and faith in its leadership.