It’s World AIDS Day—Let’s Talk About PrEP!

There are approximately 1.1 million people in the US living with HIV today. World AIDS Day, celebrated each December 1st, is an opportunity to increase awareness and knowledge about HIV, support those living with the virus, and champion efforts to prevent new infections.

One such effort? Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP: a once-a-day pill that prevents HIV negative people from becoming infected. 

PrEP is up to 99% effective at preventing HIV infection. When used as directed, it’s one of the most powerful tools for stopping the spread of AIDS— and yet, the drug is largely underutilized.

A myriad of barriers drives low usage rates: cost, accessibility, and—perhaps most unfortunately—stigma.

Even today, HIV is unfairly stigmatized by homophobia. Many—especially those in the queer community—are hesitant to seek out drugs like PrEP for fear of feeling judged.

Moreover, when you talk about HIV prevention, you have to talk about sex—which, let’s face it, can be uncomfortable. Many doctors and patients shy away from discussing PrEP due to feelings of embarrassment.

At Zoom, we want to eliminate factors that prevent people from seeking care. We encourage open, honest discussions about HIV risk; we strive to create a stigma-free environment where people can access screening and prevention options that are safe, effective, and meet their needs.

Talking openly about HIV screening and prevention confronts the stigma associated with the virus. It also helps normalize drugs like PrEP as a routine part of preventive healthcare, just like birth control. That’s why— in anticipation of World AIDS Day—we sat down with one of our providers, Allison Ehrlich, for a frank discussion about this life-saving drug. Read on:

Hi Allison! Thank you so much for sitting down to talk PrEP with us. First things first: What is PrEP?

PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is the act of taking daily medications, such as Truvada, that can help prevent contracting HIV through sexual activity and IV drug use in combination with safer sex practices including using condoms and lube, talking with your partner about HIV status, and getting tested regularly for STIs. 

Why do we need new HIV prevention tools, like PrEP? Aren’t condoms enough?

We have come a long way in the medical field with testing, treating and preventing HIV with PrEP, Truvada being one of these medications. Condoms are a great tool when used with PrEP to help protect yourself from HIV in addition to other STIs, but are not enough alone. They can break, may not be used properly, or not provide adequate coverage to reduce the risk of transmission of an STI. 

Who is a good candidate for PrEP? How do I know if it’s right for me? 

PrEP is recommended for the following populations: men who have sex with men (MSM), sex with multiple partners, involved in an open relationship, engage in sexual activity with a partner who is HIV+, or uses IV drugs. 

PrEP might be right for you if you have the following risk factors:

  • Have one or more HIV+ or injection sexual partners
  • Having sex with someone in a sexual network where HIV is common
  • Having a prior STI
  • Participate in sex work
  • Using condoms inconsistently or never
  • Share injection equipment 

It is important to talk with your healthcare provider and be honest about your sexual and medical history and lifestyle risk factors. They can help determine if PrEP is right for you. 

How effective is PrEP, and how soon does PrEP become effective after you start it? 

Per the CDC: “Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily.”

PrEP when taken daily takes at least 7 days for maximum protection against HIV.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects in clinical trials included nausea or headaches, but usually subside over several weeks. 

If I’m taking PrEP, do I still need to get tested for STIs?

Yes, you need to get tested every 3 months for HIV, and every 6 months for other STIs—sooner if you have any concerns. 

I’m worried I’ve been exposed to HIV. Is PrEP a good option for me?

No, PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis and is used before you come into contact with HIV. If you are worried you have already been exposed to HIV, then you will need PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis. This is a month-long course of therapy that needs to be started within 72 hours of exposure. 

I’m nervous about talking to my doctor about PrEP. How should I bring it up?

ZOOM+Care is a great place to talk about PrEP, because we understand it can be a sensitive topic. It is important to be clear about wanting to start PrEP. We will need to discuss your medical and sexual history to help us determine your risk factors, if you are a good candidate for PrEP, and how to best assist you in getting Truvada.

Why does ZOOM+Care support the use of PrEP?

PrEP, in combination with safer sex practices and other prevention tools, is an amazing method to help protect yourself from becomming infected with HIV. ZOOM+Care is open 7 days a week, holidays, and have clinics open until midnight providing easy access to care. Our central pharmacy is happy to assist with Truvada for PrEP and discuss ways to reduce the monthly cost. You can go online at zoomcare.com or on the iOS app to schedule a visit.

Interested in HIV screening, education, or prevention? We’re here. Schedule an appointment today.

The Health Benefits of Counting Your Blessings

Gratitude journal

You’ve heard your grandma say it a thousand times: Count your blessings. The adage is annoyingly prevalent during the holiday season, but—as it turns out—granny was onto something. Burgeoning research shows that gratitude has tangible, positive effects on mental and physical health, including better sleep, reduced depression, and improved relationships.

Let’s back up a little—what is gratitude, anyways?

Robert Emmons (one of the leading scientific experts on this topic) defines gratitude as a “sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

If you’re feeling a little more Grinch than Cindy Lou, here are three science-backed reasons to start cultivating gratitude this Thanksgiving—and year-round, too:

1. Sweeter Sleep

After a long, stressful day, your head hits the pillow—and a compilation of your most embarrassing, cringe-worthy memories starts to play. Sound familiar?  

If you’re nodding your head “yes,” you might want to stop counting sheep and start counting blessings instead. According to a 2009 study, cultivating gratitude may help you doze off faster, sleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed.

The study linked gratitude to having more positive thoughts (and fewer negative ones) at bedtime. 

It seems obvious, but cultivating positive thoughts helps push pessimism and worry—the enemies of sleep—out of your mind. Rather than obsessing over a friend who forgot to text you back, you’re remembering the coworker who went out of their way to check in with you. Instead of stressing over an awkward social interaction, you’re thinking about that presentation you nailed at work.  

Better than a lullaby, right?

2. improved relationships

Turns out, gratitude is for lovers. 

According to research from the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, expressing gratefulness toward your partner can strengthen your bond, improve feelings of harmony, and boost overall satisfaction with your relationship.  

Couples who intentionally expressed gratitude for their significant other not only felt more positively towards them, but were more comfortable addressing concerns about their relationship, too. 

The study’s lead author, Dr. Sara Algoe, says, “Feelings of gratitude and generosity are helpful in solidifying our relationships with people we care about.” 

Want to put gratefulness to practice in your relationship? Here’s an easy tip: Find something you genuinely appreciate about your partner give them an authentic compliment.

3. Boosted physical health

The benefits of thankfulness go beyond the psychological—cultivating gratitude can improve your physical health as well. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, giving thanks on a routine basis can motivate you to meet your diet and exercise goals—and cut down on unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. 

According to Robert Emmons’ 2003 study, participants who kept a daily gratitude journal exercised more, had more energy and reported fewer aches and pains. 

Emmons also found gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression, which brings us to our next point…

4. Decreased depression levels

While research on gratitude is still in a fledgling state, many psychologists are exploring the relationship between thankfulness, mental health, and depression.  

A recent study in Current Psychology examined the link between gratitude and depression in university students in China. The discovery? Gratitude may “counteract the symptoms of depression by enhancing a state of peace of mind and reducing ruminative thinking.” (Rumination is repetitively going over a negative thought or a situation without moving into problem-solving.)

Anyone who’s struggled with depression knows how awful those persistent, cycling thoughts can be—so the notion that gratitude could help alleviate them is promising, indeed. 

gratitude is not a cure-all

We want to make one thing clear: there’s no evidence that gratitude can cure serious illnesses or depression. It’s not a panacea—and it’s not for everybody, either. 
What cultivating gratitude can do is help us focus on the positive things in our lives, which can help boost our mood more than we ever imagined. 

Ready to start practicing gratitude year-round?

Get started with the tried-and-true “three good things” exercise. Every night, write down three good things that happened during the day.

For some of us, “the most wonderful time of the year” is anything but. If you or someone you know needs mental health support through the holidays, we’re here.

Schedule Now

Why Men Don’t Like Going to the Doctor—and How ZOOM+Care Can Help

 

Movember men

This article is in celebration of the 2019 Movember campaign, “Changing the face of men’s health.” The Movember Foundation helps raise  awareness for prostate cancer, but also focuses on other aspects of men’s  mental—and overall—well-being.

As much as we hate (read: loathe, abhor) gender stereotypes, there’s one cliché that holds true: Men avoid the doctor like the plague.

Compared with women, self-identified males are half as likely to see a doctor over a two-year time period. Compounding this behavior, they frequently leave prescriptions unfilled and skip their recommended medical screenings. When men wind up in the hospital, it’s more likely to be from severe issues such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and diabetes—conditions that could easily be uncovered through routine, preventative care. 

Grimmer still? Compared to women, men die five years sooner, live with more years of bad health, and—according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention—are nearly four times more likely to complete suicide. 

Looking at the data, it’s abundantly clear that men don’t like going to the doctor. (So much, in fact, that 72 percent of them would rather clean a toilet then get a check-up.) The real question is why they hate it.

A 2016 survey commissioned by Orlando Health may hold some answers. According to the results, “I’m too busy” (22%) is the number one excuse men give for skipping the doctor. Other top answers include fear of finding out something that may be wrong (21%), followed by discomfort with specific physical exams, such as prostate checks (18%). 

Our societal view of masculinity may also be to blame.

Traditional gender roles dictate that men be strong and resilient; they’re taught to reject their weaknesses and hide their vulnerability. Pretty much everything about a doctor’s office is in opposition to masculine norms, and because of this, men’s anxieties about seeking care may be intensified. (An idea backed by research conducted at Rutgers University in 2016.)

How can ZOOM+Care help? 

 

Convenience is key. 

Sixty-one percent of men say they would be more likely to go to the doctor if it was convenient.  

By offering same-day, no-wait visits (both inside and outside of work hours), we make it easy for people of all genders to get care. Only have 30 minutes on your lunch break? No problem. We can get you in and out with time to spare—and meds in hand. 

Using tech to avoid embarrassment.

Beyond busyness, one of the biggest obstacles to men seeking treatment is that they’re embarrassed—or simply reluctant—to talk about their health issues.

Our ChatCare feature lets patients connect with a provider without setting foot in a doctor’s office—meaning they’re answering questions privately, rather than confessing uncomfortable facts face-to-face. 

While we can’t treat all concerns via ChatCare, our MDs, NDs, NPs, and PAs can diagnose and treat issues such as allergic rhinitis, sinus infections, asthma, low back pain, colds, coughs, diarrhea, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, fever, hypertension, insomnia, smoking cessation, UTIs, and more.

And because it’s easy to refill prescriptions through ChatCare, it can help address the issue of men skipping their meds, too. 

Stamping out stigma.

Up to 41% of adults forego treatment for mental health concerns due to stigma and fear of discrimination. For men—many of whom have been told to “man up” and “shake it off” their whole lives—accessing mental health resources can be particularly daunting, as it goes against cultural expectations. 

We want to make mental healthcare convenient and judgement-free—for men, and for anyone who is nervous about seeking help. Our philosophy is that mental illness is like any other medical illness—it’s no more shameful than a sore throat or a broken bone. As Dr. Erik Vanderlip, our Chief Medical Officer likes to say, “Just like you’d go to the doctor for a sprained ankle, you can see a Mental Health Care professional for an assessment.”

Integration is essential.

Due to growing demand, there’s been an increase in online health retailers and specialty clinics that focus on men’s health concerns—erectile dysfunction and low testosterone being the most common.  These conditions, however, are typically multifactorial. Psychological causes such as depression—and physical factors such as obesity and diabetes—can mimic the same symptoms. For the best treatment, it’s crucial to obtain a high-quality, comprehensive evaluation. 

At ZOOM+Care, we do it all—conveniently, and with discretion.

Do your part for Movember.

Men are our fathers, sons, partners, friends, uncles, and brothers. Let’s work together to create a cultural shift where they don’t find it difficult (or embarrassing) to seek out medical care. This month and every month, encourage men’s health initiatives, foster healthy discussions, and—most importantly—let the men in your life know that their health matters. 

Don’t postpone your care, dudes. Schedule a same-day, no-wait visit today!

#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Clinic Associate Kieran Doherty

#TogetherWeZoom is our monthly employee spotlight—a place to celebrate the work employees do inside of Zoom, and the lives they lead outside it. 

For this month’s #TogetherWeZoom, we talked to Kieran Doherty: a Clinic Associate at our East Burnside location. Kieran has been with Zoom for just over a year, and—during his time here—has had an undeniable impact our company. He always goes above and beyond for both patients and fellow co-workers—whether it’s putting in extra work to reorganize a clinic, or lending an empathetic ear to those around him. 

Read on to learn all about Kieran: what his (many!) hobbies are, what he loves most about his job, and what his proudest ZOOM+Care moment was.

What inspires you most about your work?

I think what inspires me most about working in medicine is making a real palpable change in patients’ lives, sometimes right then and there. Being that resource for someone when they are in need the most, is what helps me at the end of a long and arduous day look back and feel fulfilled from the day rather than drained. I love having the privilege of playing a role in helping someone feel better.

What is your favorite ZOOM+Care perk or benefit?

My favorite perk has to be the schedule, getting half the week off to be a normal human being is an absolute dream, especially in a medical job where burnout is far too prevalent. 

What has been your favorite project so far?

My favorite project so far, with the help of my lovely former clinic partner Miranda, was whipping the East Burnside clinic into shape. It was rather neglected since ZA’s were coming and going, but after reorganizing the space and re-doing everything from the ground up (batch cards, labels, lab area), I feel like EB is now back fighting shape and is a functional space for anyone to come in and use.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

 Something most people don’t know about me is I have FAR too many passions that intrinsically motivate me. To name a few, music (both playing and traveling for events), the outdoors, a cooking youtube channel, film, and the list goes on. It got so out of hand my college mentor shortened my name from Kieran just to Ren (short for renaissance man).

What has been your proudest moment on the job?

One of my proudest moments at Zoom thus far has been sitting with a hysterical patient in the lobby, working with her to take deep breaths, and recompose herself so we could work on a 827 form together. I quickly realized it wasn’t the help with the process she needed but rather someone to give her a hug and hear out what was causing her so much distress (an abusive workplace environment). We were able to send her out of the clinic with a smile on her face when it was all said and done.

What have you learned from working at ZOOM+Care? 

I have learned so much from my time here at Zoom that I’ve actually started to keep a journal with info I want to retain from going over cases with providers. But one of the more big-picture takeaways I gleaned from my experiences here is about what really good patient care means and looks like. Some of the best providers I’ve worked with meet the patient wherever they are in life and work up from there together, rather than trying to get the patient up to speed with them. Always working with the patient as if you are co-pilots together, and the destination is their health and wellness, rather than being the captain of the ship.

Do you enjoy helping others on their journey to better health? Are you looking for an entryway into the exciting field of healthcare? We’re currently hiring for Clinic Associates! 

 

Burnout, Anxiety, and Depression Run Rampant in the Tech World

Let’s be real: Adulting is hard, and stressful workdays are inevitable. But for some employees, it’s not just an occasional case of the Mondays. Instead, crippling stress, long hours, and workplace pressure are daily realities.

While stress and burnout are issues in most American workplaces, they’re especially prevalent in the tech world, where regular overtime and high expectations for productivity are the norm. 

According to a survey from Blind, an anonymous workplace review service, a high percentage of tech workers suffer from job-related anxiety and burnout. (Burnout is defined as emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive, long-term stress.) The one-question survey had a simple “yes or no” query: “Are you currently suffering from job burnout?” Of the 11,487 users who responded, over half of respondents (57.16%, to be precise) replied “yes.” Frankly, it’s a mindblowing statistic. 

Even more concerning? Burnout, stress, overworking, and irregular work hours can increase a person’s chance of developing depression. “Generally, burnout is consolidated to work.  However, long-term work stress can lead to depression—burnout that’s extended to other domains in a person’s life,” says Zoom CMO Dr. Erik Vanderlip. 

In another Blind survey, users were asked to answer “true” or “false” to this statement: I believe I am depressed. Nearly 40% of the 10,081 tech workers who participated responded with “true.”

What causes employee stress and burnout?

Burnout, anxiety, and depression are hardly exclusive to tech companies. However, the prototypical startup culture may make employees more vulnerable to mental health issues.

Some of the top-cited factors leading to workplace-related mental health issues include unreasonable workload and too much overtime—virtual cornerstones of life at a tech company. 

Why employees’ mental health matters

It’s simple: When employees are happy, they’re more likely to thrive at work. When they’re suffering, their work suffers. According to the CDC, 200 million workdays are lost each year due to depression—which amounts to roughly $17 to $44 billion in lost productivity.  

Happier employees are more productive, but—beyond the financial consequences for companies—there’s a moral, humanitarian component to consider. People are important. Their health, including their mental health, is vitally important. 

Companies should care about their employees’ mental health because the ripple effect is far-reaching. Job-related anxiety and depression (and the ailments they cause) result in over 120,000 deaths each year, making them more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or influenza.

How ZOOM+Care can help 

Long wait times and limited availability are barriers to mental health treatment—and they’re especially difficult to overcome when you’re a busy, overworked tech professional. 

At Zoom, we offer ultra-accessible mental healthcare that fits into your busy schedule. Even if you only have 30 minutes during your lunch break, we can help. You can schedule a same-day ZOOM+Care visit directly from your phone, easily refill or manage medications, or simply to reach out for guidance. 

If you or someone you know has a pressing mental health concern, we’re here.

Schedule Now

Exciting news: ZOOM+Care Mental Health is now available in Bellevue! Never used ZOOM+Care before? Learn more about our unique approach to Mental Health.

#TogetherWeZoom: Celebrating ZOOM+Care’s Help Team 

ZOOM+Care Basecamp, home of our amazing Help Team.

On the surface, our Help Team may not seem revolutionary. Centralized customer service support? What’s so great about that, exactly?

The short answer: No-wait visits don’t just happen. They’re the result of a meticulously and thoughtfully-structured system, where every second counts. Without our centralized Help Team, ZOOM+Care’s ‘waitless’ experience wouldn’t be possible. 

Most medical practices experience some type of patient bottleneck. Think about the last time you went to the doctor: The person who greeted you and processed your insurance was also responsible for answering phones and scheduling patient visits, right? When you went to check in, you probably had to wait in line—and then wait again in the lobby. 

When clinic associates are required to perform office work, it’s almost impossible for them to provide a positive, patient-centered experience. They constantly have to choose between answering phones and taking care of your needs. What’s more, multitasking makes it harder for employees to do their best work. 

At ZOOM+Care, we improve both the patient and employee experience by giving our staff hyper-focused roles. Thanks to the Help Team, our clinic associates don’t have to split their time and attention. Instead, they can focus on what’s most important: Providing you with an outstanding patient experience. 

Likewise, our Help Team can devote their full attention to solving any roadblocks you may encounter. They play a robust role in our company: Not only are they customer service experts, but they’re also medical professionals, supporting the entire ZOOM+Care system by fulfilling records requests, resolving prescriptions issues, and uploading lab results. 

Our Help Team members truly are the unsung heroes of our company—which is why we’re devoting this month to celebrating them. Keep reading to learn about one of our Help Team all-stars, Carolyn Morgan. 

Get to know Carolyn Morgan, ESC Coordinator

Continue reading “#TogetherWeZoom: Celebrating ZOOM+Care’s Help Team “

Australia Is Having a Terrible Flu Season. Here’s Why It Matters.  

Picture of a map of Australia

Bad news from Down Under: The 2019 flu season sucked. Big time. According to numbers from the Australian government, there were over 250,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza by the end of September, making it their worst flu season on record. 

Until this year, 2017 held the title for Australia’s “worst flu season ever,” with over 229,000 confirmed cases of influenza reported by the end of October. 

To make matters worse, the Aussie flu season started early and lasted longer than usual, resulting in a record number of summer cases. Oh, and it’s still going.

A bad omen for the U.S.

You may be wondering, “How is this bad news for me?” (Aside from the fact that you’re a kind, caring person who’s invested in the well-being of others, of course.) 

The answer: The flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can be an indication of what’s in store for us Northern Hemisphere folks. A bad outbreak down under can spell trouble for us as we head into our winter. 

“Australia’s flu season is not an exact predictor, but our season tends to look a lot like it,” says Thad Mick, our VP of Pharmaceutical Programs & Diagnostic Services. “Based on the Australian data, I would expect that it’s going to be another lousy flu year in the US.”

That said, a lot can change: The flu virus can mutate, so some strains might pop up in the Northern Hemisphere that didn’t occur in the south. The flu vaccine is also slightly different in each hemisphere—so ours may be more or less effective than it was in Australia.

Give flu season your best shot

Even if our flu season winds up looking different than Australia’s, the vaccine is still your best shot at avoiding the (potentially deadly!) infection. And while it might not guarantee 100% protection, it does lower your chances of developing severe flu-related issues, like pneumonia. 

For maximum protection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated for the flu by the end of October.

Schedule a five-minute flu shot.

There’s a Mental Health Crisis on College Campuses. We’d Like to Help.

Empty college classroom

The college experience is painted with bright-colored brushstrokes. It’s supposed to be a time of self-discovery, exploration, and experimentation. However, reality doesn’t always match the glossy ideal on the brochure. Students feel an immense pressure to ‘figure things out’—figure out their lives, their careers, and their place in an ever-changing world. On top of that, many have to shoulder sizable debt with no with no certainty of being able to repay it. For today’s students, a college degree no longer guarantees the economic security it once did. 

Simply put, college is a massive burden for a young person to bear.

While college has always been stressful, recent data suggests it’s becoming moreso—and the additional burden of mental illness doesn’t help. Compounding this problem, many mental health disorders don’t begin until the late teens or early 20s. So—not only are students living away from home for the first time—but they may be experiencing anxiety and depression for the very first time, too.

All over the country, colleges and universities are reporting an explosion of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide. According to a 2018 study from the American College Health Association, over 60 percent of university students reported “overwhelming anxiety” over the course of the year. More than 40 percent said they felt so depressed, they had difficulty going about daily life. 

While most colleges provide free, short-term counseling and care, the number of students who need mental healthcare far exceeds the resources of most counseling centers. What’s more, the demand for these services tends to be cyclical, with students increasing use toward the middle of the semester—which creates a bottleneck. 

Even more concerning? Some students avoid using university resources altogether out of fear of repercussion. Frequently, students are forced to take medical leave to avoid liability related to campus suicides. Some colleges have even expelled students who express suicidal ideation.  

While the cause of the spike is still undetermined, one thing is for sure: There is a substantial unmet need for mental health treatment among college students. 

Lonely college student studying on couch

How ZOOM+Care can help 

Limited options and long waits aren’t strictly a campus problem—they’re the norm for mental healthcare everywhere. At ZOOM+Care, we’re helping break down barriers by offering ultra-accessible, affordable visits to people in all walks of life.  

We don’t want anyone, student or not, to be stuck on a waiting list for weeks, unable to get help. That’s why we take a “no wrong door” approach to mental healthcare.

Getting assistance is as simple as scheduling a same-day ZOOM+Care visit directly from your phone. You can see a member of our mental health team, or try your hand at our daily care offerings. You can also use Chat Care to refill or manage medications—or to reach out for judgment-free advice and guidance. It’s all private, all on your terms, and all in your control.

If you or someone you know has a pressing mental health concern, we’re here. 

Schedule Now, or check out our Mental Health FAQs. 

#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Software Engineer Stasha Yancho

It might sound clichéd, but our employees truly are the heart and soul of ZOOM+Care. They’re a gritty bunch, comprised of adventurers, pet lovers, foodies,  fashionistas, fantasy football fanatics, and everything in between. Each one has an interesting story— and #TogetherWeZoom is where we tell them.  Welcome to our monthly employee spotlight, designed to celebrate the people behind the scenes, working hard to shape the future of healthcare. 

September’s #TogetherWeZoom is a special Tech Team doubleheader—and we’re back with part two! This time around, we’re getting to know Software Engineer Stasha Yancho. (If you missed part one, don’t sweat it—you can read it here.)

Although she’s a newer member of the team, Stasha brings with her a passion for improving the delivery of healthcare through technology. We sat down with her to learn about her favorite day on the job, what she likes most about working at Zoom—and course, a few fun facts.

1) What inspires you most about your work?

The strongest motivator for me is when I feel that the work I do makes a positive impact for the greater good. ZOOM+Care is on a mission to improve healthcare, and while it’s a lofty goal, they’ve already made massive strides and have the vision to keep making it happen. Healthcare touches so many people’s lives in a very personal way, and it’s inspiring to be able to improve that experience in any way.

2) What is your favorite ZOOM+Care perk or benefit? 

I love all of the health-related perks that ZOOM+Care offers. My favorite would have to be the free clinic visits—it lowers the barrier to accessing quality healthcare, and is proof to me that ZOOM+Care is really invested in the health and well-being of their employees.

3) What has been your favorite project (or day on the job) so far?

I really enjoyed the recent Fiscal Year 2020 kickoff event. It was inspiring to hear about the vision our leadership has for the new ways we’re planning on disrupting the healthcare industry, and I appreciate that the value of communicating our mission and values to all employees is recognized. Being on the tech team, it was also cool to hear that ZOOM+Care considers itself a tech company.

4) What is your proudest moment at ZOOM+Care?

Very soon after starting at ZOOM+Care, I had the opportunity to work on a project for new clinic openings. Seeing how quickly that project came together and was able to start making an impact was really exciting and I was proud of helping bring that to fruition. It was a good sign to me that regardless of your level, you’re able to do important work and have a positive impact on the business right away.

 5) What have you learned while working at ZOOM+Care? 

This is my first role as a software engineer, and I consider myself very fortunate to have found such a supportive team here that’s constantly helping me learn and improve. Our team has a strong focus on quality and doing things the right way, while still encouraging learning and exploration. Having this type of positive culture is instilling good work habits and setting me up for success as I start this new career path.

6) Last question! What’s something most people don’t know about you?

After university, I moved to Moscow for a couple years to teach English, and I’m now fluent in Russian. My cat is also from Russia!

Are you a tech professional interested in bringing innovative technology to healthcare? Our IT & Software Development Teams are hiring!

6 Flu Shot Myths, Busted

Flu shots against blue background

It’s nearly October, which means two things: Halloween (yay!) and flu season (boo!). While the CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get the flu shot, less than half of Americans will heed this advice. In fact, during the 2017-2018 flu season, a mere 37.1% of adults were vaccinated. 

The flu shot is by far the best way to protect against this potentially deadly infection—so why do so many people doubt its safety and efficacy? The answer to that question lies in myth and misinformation. Many of the rumored side effects (like that the shot can give you the flu) are simply untrue. 

We’d like to clear the air about this much-maligned vaccine, but—before we bust some myths—we want to make our stance on vaccines clear. While ZOOM+Care strongly advocates for vaccination, we believe in listening to patients’ perspectives first and foremost. We want to be a non-judgemental source of knowledge, offering evidence-based information about immunizations. 

If you have concerns about the safety and efficacy of the flu shot, here are six common myths—and facts to debunk them. 

Myth #1: The Flu Shot Gives You the Flu 

This is perhaps the most pervasive myth about the flu shot, and it endures for a reason: many people report feeling unwell after receiving the vaccine. 

Because the flu shot is made from dead viruses, it cannot (repeat, cannot) give you the flu. However, it can trigger an immune response from your body—which may cause you to experience mild, flu-like symptoms. (I.e., achy muscles, soreness, redness at the injection site, or a low-grade fever.) 

It’s important to note: while irritation around the injection site is common, only 1 to 2 percent of people who get the flu shot will have fever as a side effect. 

ZOOM+Care provider giving a flu shot

Myth #2: The Flu Shot Doesn’t Work 

The effectiveness of flu shots indeed varies from season to season, it’s true. 

Like any viral infection, the flu rapidly mutates and creates new strains every year—and the vaccine can’t protect you from all of them. However, that doesn’t mean the flu shot doesn’t work. In the 2017-2018 flu season, the vaccine reduced the risk of illness by around 47%, according to the CDC. 

The flu shot’s effectiveness varies by population, too. For instance, the vaccine tends to be less effective at protecting the elderly. However, even though elderly people who are immunized may still get sick, they’ll likely get less sick. For many older folks, the flu vaccine can be the difference between a trip to the doctor and a trip to the hospital.

Myth #3: Healthy People Don’t Need the Flu Shot 

We hate to break it to you, but sometimes, even the strongest immune system falls victim to the flu. No one (except maybe Superman) is invulnerable to the virus—and getting vaccinated is always your best bet at staying protected. 

Even if you never, ever get the flu, it’s still a good idea to get a flu shot—and doing so could save lives. While you may not develop flu symptoms yourself, you can still carry the virus and pass it on to those more vulnerable. Almost anywhere you go, you can come in contact with a cancer patient on chemotherapy, a newborn infant, or someone with asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. All are especially at risk of serious complications (or even death) from the flu.

Myth #4: You Don’t Need the Flu Shot Every Year 

The bad news? Even if you got a flu shot last year, you’ll need it again this year. That’s because the virus rapidly mutates, rendering the previous year’s vaccine partially or completely useless. 

The good news is, scientists and researchers are constantly updating the vaccination so it’s effective against the strains they predict will be most common during flu season.

Pregnant woman holding an ultrasound photo

Myth #5: Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Get the Flu Vaccine

When you’re pregnant, you want to do everything you can to ensure your baby is healthy. Most expectant mothers are very careful about what they put into their bodies, and the flu shot is no exception.

As the busy flu season approaches, we have good news for pregnant women: not only is it safe for them to get the flu shot, but it’s especially beneficial for them to do so. When you’re expecting, your immune system is taxed. That means you’re more likely to get sick (and really sick), putting you at higher risk for flu-related complications. The flu can be a deadly disease for pregnant women, and the vaccine is your best bet at preventing it. 

Myth #6: The Vaccine is Poisonous

We’ll be real: some of the ingredients in the flu vaccine sound a little suspect. (Formaldehyde? Thimerosal?) However, the myth that the flu shot is “poisonous” is far more dangerous than any of its additives. 

While the vaccine does contain small traces of ingredients that would be poisonous in large doses, research overwhelmingly shows that these additives are safe in the trace amounts contained in flu shots. All the ingredients are essential in either making the vaccine, triggering the body to develop immunity, or in ensuring that the final product is safe and effective. 

One thing is for certain: when it comes to the flu vaccine, the rewards far outweigh the risks. For your best shot at a flu-free winter, get vaccinated at any of our neighborhood clinics.
Note: the flu shot will be available at ZOOM+Care starting September 27th.