Posted by Andreas Runggatscher
COVID-19 and Isolation
The fifth virtual luncheon of the RCNYin 2020 took place on April 30. Our guest speakers were Fredlee Ann Kaplan and Marcela A. Bonafina, Ph.D.
        read about our discusssion inside.

Report of the Week – Meeting of April 30
by Andreas Runggatscher

The fifth virtual luncheon of the Rotary Club of New York in 2020 took place on Zoom on April 30, 2020. The first guest speaker was Fredlee Ann Kaplan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Marital and Family Therapist and has been in Private Practice in Manhattan, providing Individual, Couple and Family Therapy since 1976. The second guest speaker was Marcela A. Bonafina, Ph.D, a Senior Psychologist in the 9/11-WTC Mental Health Program and currently working at the Department of Defense as a neuropsychologist where she completes regular evaluations to Service Members of the United States Army, particularly assessing soldiers with traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. While Fredlee emphasized ways in which people can prioritize their self-care during the COVID-19 crisis, Marcela pointed out the differences between 9/11 and COVID-19 crisis from a mental health perspective.

Fredlee mentioned the signs to look for in the body for emotional reactions to COVID-19. One of the key signs of challenges we are experiencing are emotions we may be trying to address through eating or other habits. Mindfulness, or patient awareness, is important for this time in which there are many outside economic and medical circumstances outside of our control. She facilitated a diaphragm breathing exercise to ground the participants in the meeting. Living with family that we are not accustomed to can be a challenge as we take our differences more personally the closer we are in proximity; approaching challenges from calm footing can be helpful for these types of situations.

Marcela pointed out while COVID-19 has resulted in loss of human life as 9/11 did, the pandemic uniquely causing social distancing. The isolation caused from COVID-19 can have a particular effect on mental health in addition to the vicarious trauma from news coverage. It may a challenge for individuals who are dealing with loss who are unable to have an intimate conclusion with their loved ones. Coping with our grief and anxiety in healthy new ways is a key focus for caregivers and children alike.

Marcela concluded her presentation highlighting the importance of caregivers demonstrating an example of healthy coping for the children during these difficult times. The virus has been recently observed not only to affect the lungs but also other key organs, including the brain that has made people traditionally thought as non-vulnerable go into the hospital for other issues.