A College Student’s Covid-19 Journey: Guest Blog By Author Hannah Parker

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Like many students, my life changed abruptly in March with the spread of Covid-19. Classes became virtual and most places on campus closed. My catering job at school no longer needed me. It was not long before I joined my friends in the mass exodus of bewildered students moving back home with their families. I enjoy being with my family, and looked forward to some home-cooked meals and time spent with my siblings. But it was not long before I realized that “sheltering in place” was not a short-term experience. At school I was in constant motion, going to the coffee shop, gym, and club meetings. Now I was trying to adjust to new feelings of anxiety and uncertainty but also overwhelming gratitude.

Uncommon Anxiety

I keep hearing that this is the “New Normal” but wearing a mask, social distancing, and bathing in hand sanitizer is not normal. Virtual learning became difficult while dealing with other COVID-19 stresses like daunting world news, panic-buying, and fear of losing family and friends to the virus. Home technology brought new challenges as I battled for a piece of the Wi-Fi while keeping other family members from being heard in my unmuted background. Life as I knew it had been suddenly disrupted, and the unforeseen future did not look very promising.

Feeling Uncertain

Financial insecurity added to scholastic stresses as I dealt with the loss of my part-time job. Rent on my empty apartment was still owed each month, along with my car payment and credit card bill. The money I had saved was dwindling fast, and I welcomed the reopening of the restaurant I worked for when summer came. At fifty percent capacity, hours were not guaranteed, and the   tips did not make up for wearing a mask while serving customers outside in the intense heat.

Focusing on Gratitude

If I have learned anything this past year, it is that I am profoundly thankful for the safety nets under me: secure housing, family and friends. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my classes in an on-line setting, and for the virtual internship that has taught me to connect and collaborate remotely. I have learned to create a realistic schedule that allows for mental health breaks and time with family. Most importantly, I have learned to practice empathy for myself and others as we navigate through this transformation of the student experience.

For information on coping skills and tips for college students during COVID-19 click on the links below!

https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/psychiatry/michigan-psychiatry-resources-covid-19/adults-specific-resources/coping-covid-19-pandemic-college-student

https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/tips-help-college-students-during-covid-19-pandemic

Guest Author Hannah Parker is a social work student intern at Jenerations Health Education, Inc. for the 2020-2021 academic year. She will graduate from Salisbury University this spring and plans to attend graduate school.

FUN FACT: Hannah played basketball from the time she was five years old until her freshman year of college as a point guard. For the last several years she has coached boy’s and girl’s recreational basketball at the elementary and middle school level. 

Guest Blog By Author Dawn Rasmussen: Living In A Virtual World

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One day it was life as usual and the next day everything as we knew it came to a screeching halt.  Something we had never heard of changed our lives indefinitely and we were in a pandemic thanks to a new virus called the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Schools and businesses were closing, and restrictions were being put in place.  The news was full of stories about hospitals getting to capacity and how overworked our doctors and nurses were.  This really hit close to home for me. 

My youngest sister was in her final semester of nursing school.  She was finishing up clinicals, working at the hospital part time and waiting for her May graduation when the pandemic hit.  Hospitals were desperate for assistance.  She was given a nursing extern certificate so she could help.  Her unit, where she was already working part-time, was turned into a COVID unit and my sister was now working on the front lines.  It was an experience no one wanted, but she probably learned more than she would have in those last two months of school. 

Did you ever think that you would live during a pandemic?  I know I did not.  There is no more coming and going like we were so used to doing.  Maybe you began working from home and it sounded like a dream come true.  Or like many, you may be on the front lines working with COVID patients or helping the overwhelming amount of people struggling with mental illness. 

The isolation that people are feeling from being at home is really taking its toll on people of all ages.  The news and social media are constantly talking about COVID and the effect that it is having throughout the world.  2020 has been an extremely difficult year for all of us with no end in sight.  Now that the numbers are spiking again throughout the United States, we are beginning to hear of restrictions being put back in place.  Many people are fearing another quarantine.  This can be very stressful because of the unknown. 

Do you ever think about what you did prior to COVID that you are missing?  I do and I realized it is not so much what I am missing, it is more being told what I can’t do or shouldn’t do.  I feel confined and that I am not in control of my life– but that is a matter of perception.  If you Google “perception,” one of the definitions is a way of “regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression”. A mental impression. 

We need to focus our thoughts on what is important to us.  During these last nine months it has been a struggle being at home all the time, except for going to the grocery store, but there are some things that I have learned during this time: 

  • Enjoy the time you get to spend with your family now that your busy schedule has been minimized.
  • Treat every day like a new day.  The past is in the past and we need to keep moving forward.
  • Take time to read a book or start a journal.  My two younger daughters started a journal the second week of the pandemic because they wanted to try to remember what happened.  Little did we know how long it would last.
  • Most importantly, take care of yourself and hug those around you a lot more often!

Guest Blog Author Dawn Rasmussen is a Salisbury University social work intern at Jenerations Health Education, Inc. A proud cheer Mom for over 24 years, she also works at University of Maryland Global Campus as an Academic Coordinator.

How Do I Have A Successful Virtual Event?

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So many senior living and healthcare organizations are suspending in-person events indefinitely. Many organizations say they won’t even consider having an event until there’s a vaccine!

Virtual events can be just as impactful, but what are the best practices?

If you are trying to stay in touch virtually with clients, patients, referral sources and other customers during this challenging time, check out Jennifer L. FitzPatrick’s video on coordinating a successful virtual event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqwEHVmQP4o&t=393s

Why Virtual Events Should Stick Around

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My team and I have offered virtual presentations for many years.  Prior to the healthcare crisis, many of our wonderful customers and partners preferred to have us speak at their in-person events rather than attempt online programming.  But since many of them have been forced to cancel onsite events, they are now enjoying the benefits of marketing and hosting virtual events.

Here are just a few benefits hosting an online marketing event for professionals or prospective clients, residents or family caregivers provides:

  1. There is a lot less work for the host.  There are much fewer logistical hassles because you don’t have to arrange a conference room, provide refreshments or worry about parking! 
  2. Different geographic locations and/or divisions of an organization can collaborate because people can join the event from anywhere across the country (or even in the world)!
  3. You will reach potential customers who have never attended an in-person event.  A family caregiver who is juggling a demanding career, kids and a frail aging parent may never have found the time to drive to your in-person support group.  But if she can log on from the comfort of her home office, you now have her participation.  The same goes for professional referral sources.  Maybe prior to the healthcare crisis that hospital discharge planner would never have been able to attend your lunchtime CEU event because he “just couldn’t get out” at lunchtime.  But now that he can join at his desk, he’s excited to earn credits and learn more about what services you may be able to offer his patients.

Personally I can’t wait until we start doing more in-person events again!  But in the meantime, virtual events can help you get the word out about your services in a new, creative way.  In fact, there are so many benefits, you may just want to keep them in the rotation once in-person events are again considered “safe.”

Covering For Your Colleagues When They Are Caregiving

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This morning around 7 a.m. I stumbled down to the lobby of my hotel in search of caffeine. Imagine my surprise when I encountered John–who checked me in yesterday afternoon—serving at the coffee bar. “Do you live here!?” I asked him. He smiled and said, “Sort of.”

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