Stress Resilience in a Pandemic

In the early months of the pandemic, the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center sponsored a series of talks by experts who helped us navigate the challenging times.

Speakers and talks

Recording of Dr. Carla Cheatham talk is posted below. Others coming soon.

Diane Snyder Cowan, former director of Grief Services at the Hospice of Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio spoke  about grief and loss during the time of COVID. Diane Snyder-Cowan's talk acknowledges that during the COVID-19 pandemic everyone has experienced grief and loss, whether it be the loss of the world as you knew it or and/or the death of a loved one. The session is focused on the many aspects of loss, including disenfranchised and ambiguous grief, ways to manage grief and loss as well as self-care strategies to help make life better.

Diane was the Director of Grief Services at the Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio for twenty years before retiring last September. She provided oversight for the nonprofit agency’s on-site and community bereavement programs as well as the music therapy and art therapy programs, chaired Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Ethics Committee and the trauma informed end-of-life-care champion workgroup. She is also a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) and certified hospice and palliative care administrator (CHPCA).

Ithaca College Physician Assistant program faculty members explored some tools that can help with grounding in uncertain times. They showed us how to build resilience through mindfulness and relieve stress anywhere and anytime with calm/safe place. They talked about how to build resilience through mindfulness and relieve your stress anywhere and anytime.

Dr. Salahshor is the Founding Program Director of the Physician Assistant Program in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance at Ithaca College. She has been a Physician Assistant (PA) for 25 years with experience in approximately 10 specialties. A 1994 graduate of St. John’s University/Bayley Seton PA Program, she has worked at Catholic Medical Center in Queens, NY, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Mayo Clinic Florida and in private practice. 

Ms. Kolmetz is a Founding Principal Faculty member of the Physician Assistant Program in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance at Ithaca College. She is a 1995 graduate of the inaugural class of the Physician Assistant Program at Rochester Institute of Technology and has had a wide variety of clinical experiences in many settings including primary care, specialty care, emergency medicine, inpatient medicine, and outpatient medicine. She currently provides clinical care as part of the Rochester Regional Health Mobile Surgical Services team.

Dr. Watson spoke about caring for ourselves and others during trying times. The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic brought brought tremendous stress to every sector of the upstate community. You may have been an essential healthcare worker on the front lines of the pandemic. You may have lost your job from budget cuts or business failure. Or you may be a caregiver isolated at home with a seriously ill loved one. Exceptional times deserve and require exceptional approaches to caring for yourself and others. Dr. Patricia Watson will share a model of self-care and peer support that she helped develop for the US Navy and Marines, and that she has adapted to help you navigate these unprecedented times.

Dr. Watson has been a psychologist for the National Center for PTSD since 1998.  Prior to that, she was an active duty Navy psychologist working with adults and children/families for eight years.  Her education includes a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, and a postgraduate fellowship in pediatric psychology. She has been involved in extensive science-into-practice translation, intervention development, and program implementation, including:

She co-authored the Psychological First Aid (PFA) Field Guide and the Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) Manual, designed to intervene in the immediate and intermediate phases after disasters and terrorism, as well as versions of Stress First Aid self-care/coworker support models for military, law enforcement, forest firefighters, nurses, probation officers, and rail workers, as well as public-facing versions for patients, clients, and families. She co-edited three books on disaster behavioral health interventions, and numerous publications and courses on disaster mental health, combat and operational stress, military culture, early intervention, and resilience.

Dr. Cheatham kicked off our series on Stress Resilience in the Pandemic with a presentation on how we not only survive but actually thrive in challenging times. The circumstances of our lives and work can already be stressful, but the events of the pandemic offered even more potentially traumatic events that could invite compassion fatigue, moral distress, and secondary/vicarious trauma.  Dr. Cheatham discussed what the fields of resilience, emotional intelligence, and post-traumatic growth have to teach us about what we CAN do to support ourselves and others, regardless of what is happening in the world around us. 

Dr. Cheatham began her career in psychosocial services with an MA in Psychology, certification in trauma therapy, PhD in Health & Kinesiology, and MDiv before working 10 years as an interfaith healthcare chaplain and bereavement coordinator.  Carla is a national keynote speaker and consultant focusing on emotionally intelligent and resilient professionals and organizations, Chair of NHPCOs Ethics Advisory Council, former Leader for NHPCO’s Spiritual Caregivers Community, Adjunct Professor at Seminary of the Southwest, and Assistant Professor for University of Maryland’s MS in Palliative Care.  She publishes books and videos about resilience, communication, boundaries, grief, healthy leadership, service recovery, and emotionally competent professionals.