For DCs, keeping calm during a pandemic or time of social upheaval has both personal and leadership aspects that covers patients, staff and family
The global pandemic with COVID-19 is unlike anything any of us have experienced before. Not surprisingly, the fear involved is affecting many people. How can DCs stress keeping calm during this scary time?
Dr. Stephen B. Hill, D.C., Hill Functional Wellness in Tempe, Ariz., took time to answer our questions about how he and his staff have helped everyone stay as calm as possible. What follows is an edited version of our interview.
How can doctors of chiropractic (DCs) stress keeping calm during these uncertain and tough time?
One of the things that we have done in our office — both with our staff and with our patients — is to teach and reiterate the fact that as individuals we have control of how we care for our bodies. If there is one lesson we have learned about this particular virus up to this point, it is that those who are most susceptible to complications are people with pre-existing (usually chronic) conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. So the starting point for us all should be to focus on what we can be doing to live healthy lives that prepare our bodies to be able to fight illness at full capacity.
Secondly, we see this as a moment in time where we get to put humility and kindness into practice. We may have our own opinions about what needs to be done about social interaction, the economy, and even how we run our own businesses, but each of our local governments has made suggestions or mandates as to how we should be interacting at this time. By placing our focus on others with humility and kindness, our daily actions — like regular hand washing, wearing a mask, and keeping more distance than we may be used to keeping with others — will serve to bless others, even if it is just with peace of mind in the case that illness is not even present. And in the best-case scenario, it will help others to stay healthier than if we had chosen not to make these personal sacrifices.
What about while at home?
Practice what you preach. The chiropractic profession holds dear its devotion to proactive health care measures and taking personal responsibility for the health of our bodies. When you embody these principles, your family will also benefit as well.
Provide regular space to talk openly about the nature of what we know about the situation at hand and encourage your family members to control what they have control of. Fear is a powerful motivator, so being a source of peace and clarity can be helpful for those in your home who may be fearful.
If DCs are holding limited office hours what are some tips for keeping calm in the office?
Make it outwardly known that you and your office staff are making efforts to protect each person who comes in for an appointment. For your staff, provide masks, hand sanitizer, and encourage hand washing before interacting with anyone in the office. Sterilize treatment tables and other equipment that patients may be in contact with frequently (preferably between each visit).
Schedule patient visits less frequently, or stagger them if your office has more than one provider so as to minimize the number of people in the office at one time. And communicate to your patients that you are actively taking these steps. Keeping calm and calmness is a state of mind, and when patients know that your efforts are being made to protect them, their minds will be more at ease.
What should they not be doing?
It is probably not a great idea to conduct “business as usual.” People are coming to your office with the expectation that you are adapting their treatment experience to the current circumstance. They may even ask what proactive steps your office is taking, and if you can’t give them a truthful answer, they may lose confidence in the safety of being there.
I would also encourage, if an office has a television in the waiting room, refrain from keeping it on a news channel. As important as it is to be informed about what is happening, it is also very easy to be emotionally distracted by a flashy headline. They can get that information elsewhere; your office is a safe haven from the stress and sensationalism that most news programs unfortunately induce right now.
Is there anything else important for DCs to know?
I find that we are calmer when we know that others care about us. Panic and chaos settle in when people feel abandoned, so it’s important to check in with your patients frequently and be there for them. Emails are great, but a phone call adds that personal touch and your patients will never forget about your thoughtful gesture.