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March 31, 2020

Reliant caring for the caregivers, offering therapy sessions for those treating coronavirus patients

Photo/Grant Welker Reliant Medical Group's Shrewsbury medical office

For medical providers dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, it's a stressful time without any end soon on the horizon. Reliant Medical Group in Worcester is starting twice-a-week group therapy-type sessions for clinicians to help deal with the pandemic.

The sessions will start Tuesday night, with behavioral health clinicians taking questions from Reliant caregivers and giving advice on skills needed to work for many weeks more through the pandemic, said Sam Nordberg, Reliant's chief of behavioral health.

The sessions, like an increased number of medical appointments in an age of social distancing, will take place online to limit contact and potential spread of the virus. Reliant is planning a behavioral health resource line for employees to connect with its behavioral health clinicians, Nordberg said.

Reliant, which has outpatient facilities across the region, has already moved many of its behavioral health therapy sessions online. Those so-called tele-health sessions have totaled about 700 since Reliant shifted to that method of care about two weeks ago, Nordberg said.

"When it was apparent that we were headed toward a crisis, we converted the whole department to video visits in about 48 hours," he said. "That was a massive team lift.”

Nordberg said he and colleagues have advised patients to prepare for managing a longer period of stress than the first few weeks of the pandemic, with anxiety about the outbreak itself and potential depression-related symptoms of social distancing. Taking care of yourself includes getting a good night's sleep and practicing mindful activities such as yoga or meditation, he said.

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