#TogetherWeZoom: Join Us in Celebrating Our Frontline Heroes

COVID-19 frontline worker
Jennifer Morris works the front line for ZOOM+Care.

Welcome back to #TogetherWeZoom, a series dedicated to the people who make what we do possible.  As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, we would like to honor ZOOM+Care’s front line. To highlight the important work our providers and clinic associates are doing during the pandemic—and to learn more about the extraordinary challenges they face every day—we’re dedicating this series to them for the time being. (You can check out PART ONE here. )

For this week’s #TogetherWeZoom, we spoke to  Jennifer Morris: a PA-C on our Urgent and Primary Care Team. Read on to learn about her proudest moment on the job since the pandemic hit, how she’s adjusting to the “new normal,” and what she’s going to do when all of this is over. 

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. So first off, given the moment, how are YOU feeling? 

At the moment, I’m doing well. I’m happy to be employed, healthy, and able to serve our patients. 

Can you tell us What challenges you and the ZOOM+Care are staff face daily?

Some of our greatest challenges come from dealing with change every day. As an organization, we are rapidly adapting by adding new products such as PhoneCare , VideoCare, and expanding ChatCare . Change is difficult for people in the best of times, but our rapid changes require a great deal of fortitude, grace, and patience. Another challenge is managing patient and staff anxiety and fears around illness symptoms, potential exposure to COVID-19, staying well, concerns for the future, and this new “normal”.

What was a typical day for you like before coronavirus? What are your days like now? 

Before the coronavirus outbreak, I saw all of my patients in-person, in the clinic. Currently, I am a VideoCare™ provider, which is an effective and sustainable option for both our patients and me. By using VideoCare visits, we can maintain social distancing protocols and conserve PPE. I’ve found that most things can be diagnosed and treated via VideoCare

Outside of work, before coronavirus, I was seeing friends, going to concerts, entertaining at home, etc. Not so much anymore!

What precautions do frontline workers have to take when clocking off and going home?

We have to think about whether or not it is a good idea to go to the grocery store or get takeout on the way home.

Every outing is a potential exposure point, and we cannot get sick now. Our patients need us to provide care, our colleagues need us to keep people out of the ERs unnecessarily, and our families depend on us. 

Can you describe the mood amongst the ZOOM+Care staff?

 The mood is mixed and varies by the moment, or by the day. There was a great deal of anxiety until we started providing the majority of visits by video, phone, and chat.

Since adding those services, we are more comfortable coming to work as we do not have so many concerns about possible exposure.

How is the staff coping with the potential shortage of PPE? 

We’re doing okay for the time being, but it is worrisome. We simply cannot provide care without adequate PPE. 

What’s your favorite activity or practice to keep the COVID blues at bay? 

I’ve been walking a lot with my (very sweet) dog, catching up on reading, watching movies, working in my yard (tearing out overgrown plants and weeds is a good way to relieve tension), and connecting with friends and family via phone (actual conversations, imagine that!) 

What are you doing to cope with stress and anxiety right now?

Deep breathing and taking it all in stride are my two best strategies. Also, just remembering that we will get through this and come out the other end better and stronger. 

Any advice on how to support medical workers during this time?

Everyone requires different things to feel supported. It seems the universal asks are:

  • Feeling heard through active listening, having a positive and encouraging workplace. (A kind word and acknowledgment of someone’s efforts go a long way.)
  •  Colleagues staying calm in the face of fear and anxiety. 
  • Colleagues stepping up to cover a shift, and/or colleagues taking on extra tasks to lighten someone’s load.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when all of this is over?

Party! Spend time with my friends and family, go to the movies, and plan a trip.

If you could tell the general public one thing right now, what would it be? 

Please stay home and stay safe, not only for yourself and your family but for the well-being and health of others. If you are sick, do not go out or go to work. (This also applies to when this is over, and for ANY illness).

The pandemic will end, and when it does, you can have a huge party and celebrate with your neighbors, family, and friends. Life will return to normal—just be patient. 

ZOOM+Care is doing a lot to fight COVID-19 in our community. What’s been your proudest moment on the job since the pandemic hit? 

I am so proud of our company’s response to all of this. The staff at ZOOM+Care have stepped up and worked together to support each other, our patients, and the community. The team here have worked miracles to expand ChatCarequickly, and add phone and video visit service lines. We quickly mobilized a COVID-19 testing pilot and have begun testing our high-risk patients. I’ve been amazed at the support and flexibility of our staff. It has been truly inspiring!

WE KNOW THINGS AREN’T NORMAL RIGHT NOW, BUT WE’RE STILL HERE DOING WHAT WE NORMALLY DO: PROVIDING YOU WITH BETTER CARE, FASTER. (WHETHER IT’S THROUGH VIDEO, CHAT, PHONE, OR AT OUR CLINICS.) GET CARE NOW. 

3 Ways to Get Frictionless Healthcare during COVID-19

VideoCare is virtual healthcare from ZOOM+Care

As the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, our commitment to providing high-quality care has never been greater. The CDC recommends using virtual healthcare to avoid exposure and help curb the spread of COVID-19. For the time being, we’re asking our patients to start their care by connecting with a provider through one of our virtual telehealth options.

For 14 years, ZOOM+Care has challenged the status quo of healthcare by offering radically convenient access to primary, urgent, and specialty services. We’ve given our patients care where they want it (in their neighborhoods) and when they want it (same day, on demand). Now, with the expansion of our telemedicine services, we have more choices for how you want to receive your healthcare: in-clinic, or virtually through ChatCare™, PhoneCare™, or the newly-launched VideoCare™.

We know navigating the world of virtual care can be overwhelming at first, but don’t worry—no matter how you choose to see a doctor at ZOOM+Care, the experience is always an easy one. Keep reading to discover three ways to get frictionless healthcare through Zoom:

#1: ChatCare 

Feeling not-quite-right, but not sure what’s ailing you? ChatCare™ is the perfect place to start. For just $25, our providers can diagnose and treat dozens of common injuries and illnesses online.

While ChatCare™ can’t handle everything (Real talk: it’s really hard to get stitches through text message), our docs can address issues like allergies, sinus infections, asthma, colds, coughs, fatigue, fever, UTIs, and more. For concerns with visible symptoms, you can even send photos to our providers. 

Chat Now 

New to ZOOM+Care, or needing more comprehensive treatment? ChatCare™ might not be the best option for you. Which brings us to…

#2: VideoCare ™ 

Nothing can replace seeing a doctor face to face, but what happens when you’re sheltering in place? Enter VideoCare™: an easy, affordable way to have a visual conversation with a doctor—without leaving your house. 

Similarly to ChatCare™, VideoCare™ lets you have a real-time convo with a provider who can discuss, diagnose, and even prescribe medications for your health concerns. 

Now you might be asking, “Why VideoCare™? Can’t I just use Chat?”

Compared to ChatCare™, Video offers a much more comprehensive experience—it allows our doctor to examine both the visible and auditory signs of your health concern. Due to its more personal nature, VideoCare™ is the perfect choice for first-time patients and those seeking treatment for chronic ailments and preventative care, and even specialty concerns.

Wait, I can see a specialist through VideoCare™?

That’s right! You don’t have to put your speciality care on hold for COVID-19. Thanks to VideoCare™, you can visit with a ZOOM+Care specialist face to face—virtually.

Currently, we offer video visits for Dermatology, Gynecology, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Internal Medicine, and Mental Health.

What about meds?

We can prescribe (and even ship!) medications to you through Video, as needed.

Even if it’s outside of regular business hours, our VideoCare ™ doctors can help. We have providers available from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on weekends.

Most insurances cover video visits the same as a visit to a clinic, so standard copays and deductibles apply. If you’re uninsured, VideoCare™ starts at just $75!

Start Your Video Visit 

Virtually Seamless Virtual Care

While virtual care can’t replace physical exams and necessary testing, our telehealth options offer unparalleled continuity. If you start a VideoCare™ visit and still need to see a doctor in person, we’ll make sure you have a seamless transition. We’ll schedule your appointment at a nearby ZOOM+Care, and won’t charge you for the extra visit. Your in-person appointment will pick up exactly where the virtual one left off. 

It’s safe and secure, too. 

We value your privacy above all else. VideoCare™ visits are sercure, private interactions between you and your ZOOM+Care provider. They take place through HIPAA-compliant video and do not capture any personal or identifiable data.

#3: A PhoneCare™ & in-person visit

Due to COVID-19, we’re seeing most of our patients virtually. However, we’re still here to deliver care the old-fashioned way: face to face, in the flesh, with a smile. (Even if you can’t see the smile under our masks—it’s there. We promise.)

If you think you need to see a doctor in person, start with a PhoneCare visit. Your cooperation helps us control patient volume at our clinics and prepare protective equipment to keep you safe.

Over the phone, your doctor will discuss your symptoms and determine if you need to come into a clinic. If so, we’ll book you at a nearby ZOOM+Care and waive the cost of your phone appointment. 

And even though times are weird, your in-office visit will be the same waitless experience you’ve come to expect—no sitting in the lobby, no lines, and no extra trips to the pharmacy.

WE KNOW THINGS AREN’T NORMAL RIGHT NOW, BUT WE’RE STILL HERE DOING WHAT WE NORMALLY DO: PROVIDING YOU WITH BETTER CARE, FASTER. (WHETHER IT’S THROUGH VIDEO, CHAT, PHONE, OR AT OUR CLINICS.) GET CARE NOW. 

#TogetherWeZoom: Join Us in Celebrating Our Frontline Heroes

ZOOM+Care Covid-19 frontline
Danielle Almony works the front line at our clinic in Ballard, WA.

Right now, the world is at war. But the enemy is a virus, not a country—and our heroes are not enlisted persons. Instead, they are soldiers of another kind: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clinic associates, caregivers, grocery store clerks, small business owners, and city workers. Every day, they sacrifice their health for the health of our community; they endure long hours in personal protective equipment to give us the services we still so desperately need.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, we would like to honor ZOOM+Care’s front line. To highlight the important work our providers and clinic associates do—and to learn more about the extraordinary challenges they’re currently facing—we’re dedicating our next few #TogetherWeZoom posts to them.

First up, we spoke to Danielle Almony: a PA-C at our Ballard clinic in Seattle. Read on to learn about how she’s coping with COVID-19 stress and anxiety, what her favorite quarantine pastime is, and her advice for how to support medical workers during this time.

Hi Danielle! Thank you so much for chatting with us today. So, first off, given the moment, how are you feeling?

As most people are saying, it’s a weird time. At times, I feel like I’ve got everything in control, but other times I look around and think, “Wow, what is going on right now.

What challenges do you and the ZOOM+Care staff face on a daily basis? 

I think one of the biggest challenges we are facing is not being able to have a warm interaction with our patients anymore. I miss the handshake and the ability to share a smile since we now have to wear masks throughout the day. I feel like the personal connection with learning about our patients, such as what they like to do, how their day is going, has gone by the wayside a bit. It’s been hard to practice medicine as I had prior to this pandemic. I feel that people aren’t always quite as open in these times. 

What was a normal day for you before coronavirus? What are your days like now?

Before coronavirus, I used to love grabbing a coffee and going for a walk around Greenlake after dropping my oldest daughter off at preschool. I also loved browsing the library for fun books and going to the zoo. These activities have been halted, but now I make coffee at home and go for a walk in my neighborhood, trying to maintain social distancing by crossing the street. We are looking for books virtually now, and while we have lost turning pages, we have been able to find some books that are interactive. And, we’ve rediscovered our backyard and the joy of make-believe. 

What precautions do frontline workers have to take when clocking off and going home? 

I live with my partner and two daughters, and prior to the pandemic, I would love to open the front door and to get big hugs from them. However, I now go in through my garage and take a shower prior to seeing them. I also have been cognizant of checking my temperature daily and being aware of the smallest things, which prior to the pandemic, I would have brushed them off. 

Can you describe the mood amongst the ZOOM+Care staff?

 I think, overall, we are optimistic that things are moving the right direction. I feel that we have adapted with the addition of Phone and VideoCare ™ visits. Implementing these visits has allowed us to interact with people again in a safe and controlled way, and has lifted a bit of the anxiety off our shoulders regarding PPE counts and exposure as frontline workers. I also feel that Chat and VideoCare™ are the future of medicine, as it puts the patient in control of when and how they want to be seen. The fact that it was rolled out so quickly was extraordinary, and really opened ZOOM+Care up to a new world of medicine. 

How is the Zoom staff dealing with the potential shortage of Personal protective equipment? 

Thankfully, ZOOM+Care has been able to maintain our PPE, but at times looking at our dwindling numbers, it gets to be a bit concerning. We are making sure to practice social distancing, and thanks to telehealth, have been able to preserve our PPE for those patients who really need in-person visits. 

What’s your favorite activity or practice to keep the COVID blues at bay? 

I have always loved cooking and am trying to jump on the baking bread train. I’ve learned that I will probably never open a bakery…

What are you doing to cope with stress and anxiety right now? 

My partner and I have rediscovered a love of doing puzzles. It really allows us to disconnect from the ever-present social media and news and just focus on one piece at a time. 

Any advice on how to support medical workers during this time?

I think one of the biggest things to do is to continue social distancing and to stay home because that keeps everyone healthy and can hopefully slow the transmission of this virus. Also, realizing that we are here if we are needed—and will continue to be here when the pandemic slows. I want to tell patients that they shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a visit. 

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when all of this is over? 

Go back to the farmer’s market and meet my friend’s new baby!

If you could tell the general public one thing right now, what would it be? 

That it is ok to be not ok, and at some point or another, we are all feeling that way. The vast majority of us have never lived through a pandemic before, and so we are all taking it one step at a time.  

ZOOM+Care is doing a lot to fight COVID-19 in our community. What’s been your proudest moment on the job since the pandemic hit? 

ZOOM+Care has been amazing in the way it has supported both the staff and the patients. Having a daily check-in with leadership has given us insight into our ever-evolving approach to fighting this virus. Also, the fact that leadership has been available and open to answering any and all questions makes me feel supported and like they have my best interest at heart. Being able to partner with a laboratory to test an at-home kit for COVID-19 diagnosis shows how forward-thinking we are as a company, and I am proud to be a part of that. 

Danielle said it best—times are weird. We know things aren’t normal right now, but we’re still here doing what we normally do: providing you with better care, faster. (Whether it’s through video, chat, phone, or at our clinics.) Get care now. 

Hey Zoom: I Feel so Helpless during the COVID-19 Pandemic. What Can I Do to Help?

ZOOM+Care Covid 19

Great question.

COVID-19 has ushered in an era of uncertainty—uncertainty about the future, yes, but also about how to help each other during these unprecedented times.

Hands down, the best way to help is by practicing social distancing.

But as we all shelter in place, many of us are wondering, “What else can I do? How can I support frontline workers? Should I sign petitions? Organize a fundraiser to purchase personal protective gear for local hospitals?”

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Erik Vanderlip, weighs in with some answers:

Be emotionally available.

“There are several things you can do to help others right now, beyond social distancing,” says Dr. Vanderlip.

“First and foremost, take care of yourself and those close to you. We need to be extra sensitive to the emotional needs of our loved ones during this time—especially older relatives, and vulnerable people in your community. Talk to your parents, call extended family members, and frequently check in on friends who are self-isolating at home. “

LIMIT UNNECESSARY TRIPS.

Vanderlip also suggests doing everything you can to avoid unnecessary trips.

“We’re still seeing a lot of people on the streets, packing into grocery stores, and even flocking to the coast for weekend getaways. We should only be leaving our homes for essential activities.”

When it comes to grocery stores, Vanderlip says, “While you shouldn’t stockpile groceries, having some necessities on hand in your home—if you’re in a financial position to buy them—is something that can help you and others. That way, you won’t have to take frequent trips to the grocery store.”

THINK LOCAL.

“When thinking of ways to help, many people overlook their immediate circle of influence—their friends, family, and neighbors,” Vanderlip reflects.

“Everyone is super focused on raising money for masks and personal protective equipment—but there are probably people in your building or on your street that could use help. Do you have an elderly neighbor, for example? See if you can pick up cleaning supplies, groceries, and other other necessities for them. Help keep them safe by wearing gloves and leaving their packages outside the door.”

CITE YOUR SOURCES.

“Finally, don’t contribute to the spread of rumors or misinformation,” says Dr. Vanderlip.

“Conspiracy theories catch faster than COVID-19, but truth takes longer to spread. Before you share the salacious rumor you heard, check your sources and pause. Fear and misinformation lead to panic, chaos, and poor decision-making. During this time, it’s essential to focus on what we each can control and what we can’t.”

Right now, social distancing is the most effective measure for containing the spread of the coronavirus. Check out our answers to your most burning social distancing questions. 

Your Biggest Social Distancing Questions, Answered

social distancing questions

You know how when you hear a word over and over and over again, it begins to lose all meaning?

That’s probably how you feel about the term “social distancing” right now.  

But, despite everyone being tired of hearing (and reading, and talking) about social distancing, no two words better explain what we need to do to curb the spread of COVID-19.  

Social distancing is, perhaps, the most meaningful phrase of 2020. 

One more time for the people in the back: What is social distancing? 

As we’re sure you know by now, social distancing describes several precautions that can slow down the spread of COVID-19. These measures include staying home, avoiding crowds, and refraining from touching one another.

Why is social distancing so critical? 

If COVID-19 continues to spread, unchecked by social distancing, there might not be enough hospital beds or respirators for those in need.

According to burgeoning research, coronavirus may be transmitted by carriers who are still healthy. That means everyone must practice social distancing—not just those who are sick. Full compliance will help vulnerable populations, such as older adults and immunocompromised individuals, from getting the virus. 

We know that living like this is undeniably isolating and inconvenient, even if it’s for the greater good. To help you keep calm and social distance on that, we answered your most burning social distancing questions:

Can I leave my house during social distancing?

Yes. For sanity’s sake, it’s okay—and good—to go outdoors to get fresh air and exercise. The point is not to quarantine yourself, but to avoid close contact with others. 

What does “close contact” mean, exactly? Just keep a full six feet away from other people as much as you can.

However, there are a few precautions you should take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. 

When you leave your home, avoid touching your face and wipe down any surfaces you come into contact with. If you’re out of your home for an extended period, periodically disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer. 

And no matter what, practice impeccable hygiene: Wash your hands before you go out, while you’re out, and when you get home. 

Can I order takeout while social distancing? 

Yes! Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food—so ordering takeout should be safe.

That said, you should still be extremely careful. Disinfect takeout containers upon their delivery, and wash your hands before tucking in.

Ordering takeout helps restaurants and delivery drivers earn much-needed income during the pandemic, so don’t refrain from treating yourself.

Is it okay to use public transportation?

Crowded buses and trains, with their oft-touched poles and communal benches, are fertile breeding grounds for germs. To minimize your risk of infection, you should avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

However, if you need to use public transportation to get to work, be sure to carry disinfecting wipes to clean seats and handles, and wash your hands as soon as your commute is over.

Can I go to the grocery store? 

Yes, and doing so is likely unavoidable. However, you should try to be strategic about your shopping trips. Pick a time when the store is least likely to be busy, such early morning or late at night. And—without giving in to the urge to panic buy— purchase as much as you’re able to at a time, to minimize your number of trips. 

While shopping, remember that surfaces in the store may be contaminated. If possible, use a disinfecting wipe to clean the handle of your grocery cart—and as always, keep your hands away from your face. When you get home, wash your hands immediately. 

If you buy fruits and veggies, be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating.

Are you over 60, or immunocompromised? You may want to try and avoid shopping trips altogether, if you can help it. Try shopping oline

What about going to the doctor?

Unless you have an urgent medical issue, you should probably avoid going into the doctor’s office. 

However, you can seek out virtual and telehealth options that don’t require an in-person appointment. 

At ZOOM+Care, we’re currently asking all patients to start their care by connecting with a provider through Phone or via ChatCare. We will treat what we can remotely, but—if our providers feel it’s medically necessary—can get you scheduled for in-person visit, as well. 

Phone and Chat visits will go a long way in minimizing the risk of exposing yourself or others through in-person contact. 

Can my friends come over?

We know it’s difficult, but visitors aren’t a great idea right now. This is especially important if you or someone you live with is at high risk, or you live in a communal setting like a nursing home or group home.

Social distancing can be lonely, so it’s important to maintain connections during this time. Try getting creative with technology: Schedule dinners parties via Skype, host a movie marathon on Zoom conferencing, or play games with friends online.  

If your mental health is suffering as a result of social distancing, consider consulting with our doctors via ChatCare or booking a Phone visit with one of our Mental Health providers. We can explore your options for treatment and guide you towards the best solution for your mental health.

When I leave the house, do I need to wear a face mask? Will it protect me from getting the virus?

Not necessarily—and unless you’re sick or caring for someone who is, you probably shouldn’t wear one. 

Masks are effective at capturing droplets, which are the main source of transmission for coronavirus. If you are in close contact with an infected person, a mask may reduce your chances of contracting the disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are showing symptoms, you should make every effort to isolate yourself from others who feel well.

However, masks don’t protect healthy people from coming into contact with those germs. Because COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days,  a mask will make little difference if going to the grocery store or taking a bus.  

What’s more, face masks are in short supply. We should save them for healthcare providers and people experiencing upper respiratory symptoms.

Do I need to stay six feet away from my spouse—or even my children?

Not unless either of you is showing symptoms of sickness.

Under most circumstances, if you and your loved ones are living in the same home, you don’t need to stay six feet away from them. (And let’s be real: doing so would be virtually impossible.) However, limit excessive physical contact as much as possible.

We’re practicing social distancing, too. If you or a loved one needs care during this turbulent time, please connect with us via Phone or via ChatCare before coming into a clinic. We appreciate your understanding as we all do our part to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Coping with Anxiety in the Age of COVID-19

Photo courtesy of Shannon O’Brien and @blksmth.

To say these are strange times is an understatement. Cities are eerily still and silent, their streets as empty as Christmas day. Restaurants and bars are shutting down, no longer emitting their friendly nighttime buzz. Store shelves are empty, or nearly so, stripped of everyday essentials like hand soap and toilet paper.

The sights, sounds, and sensations of the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented, except in fiction—and with so much uncertainty comes certain anxiety. 

Psychologists define anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Unlike fear, which is an emotional response to a definite threat, anxiety is our brain’s response to an unknown danger. Anxiety crops up when we don’t have enough information to predict the future accurately. 

With a global pandemic permeating the consciousness, it can be challenging to stay calm. It’s even more difficult because the situation is so new and unfamiliar. In essence, there is no framework to help us navigate these uncertain times.

If you’re feeling worried and overcome with “what if” thinking right now, know that you’re not alone. However, if your anxiety has turned into feelings of helplessness or panic, it’s important to find ways to relieve stress, soothe yourself, and relax.

Next time your brain starts spinning out of control, quell your anxiety with these bite-sized tips:

Remind yourself it’s okay to feel anxious 

In the words of Carl Jung, “What you resist persists.”

It’s a bit of a paradox, but the more we deny our anxious feelings, the more worried we become. Instead of shoving your worry aside or berating yourself for feeling panicked, take a step back, and recognize that your anxiety serves a purpose.

Fear and anxiety are evolutionary adaptations of the human brain. They motivate us to prepare for potential threats. (Think of it this way: If you didn’t have any anxiety before a test, you wouldn’t study—right?)

In the context of COVID-19, anxiety urges you to take necessary safety precautions to protect yourself and your family. 

Being aware of your anxiety (and the purpose it serves) may help you manage your symptoms better. 

Next time you feel worried, don’t push your anxious feelings aside. Instead, allow your anxious thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations to wash over you. Practice tolerating uncertainty, allowing your anxiety to be present while reminding yourself that anxiety is an integral part of the human experience.

Flip the off switch

In times of crisis, we all want to stay up to date—but there’s a fine line between being informed and becoming obsessed. If your COVID media consumption borders on compulsive, you’re likely fueling the fire of anxiety. 

When the news leaves you overwhelmed, try implementing a digital detox. Allocate strict limits for engaging with COVID content. Tell yourself, “I’m going to check the news once in the morning and once in the evening. I’m going to find out what’s happening today, what the guidelines are. Then I’m going to shut myself off from any COVID-19 media.”

If you’re anxious about missing important updates, you can always ask friends and family to contact you in the event of an emergency. 

Stay off social

Social media can keep us connected during times of isolation. However, sites like Facebook and Twitter may also exacerbate our anxiety by exposing us to extreme opinions, conspiracy theories, and misinformation. 

If you find yourself growing anxious as you read updates, put down your phone, or walk away from your computer. (Some social media platforms even have built-in tools to help users manage their time.)

Get some exercise 

(Even if it’s just a dance party in your bedroom.)

Study after study shows that physical activity reduces anxiety. Aerobic exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and helps you channel your anxiety elsewhere. Physical activity also stimulates the production of endorphins, your body’s natural mood elevator. 

Practicing social distancing? Skip the gym and opt for a solo activity instead: a hike, a run through the park, or bike ride. (Bonus: Studies show that getting outdoors may also boost your mood and improve mental health.) If you’re cautious about going outdoors, there is no shortage of exercises you can do indoors: yoga, squats, jumping rope, running stairs, and even following a video.

Limit alcohol consumption 

When confined to your home for long periods, it’s easy to indulge in self-destructive behaviors such as heavy alcohol consumption. 

While a glass of wine (or two) may be calming in the moment, alcohol is a depressant. It changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. What’s more, as your body processes alcohol, you may feel edgy, irritable, and stressed for several hours—even an entire day. 

Ditch Dr. Google 

If you suffer from health anxiety, Dr. Google is not your friend—especially right now. 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, which—as you likely know—apply to many diseases, including the common cold. Long story short? It’s impossible to diagnose yourself with COVID-19 via Google. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus and would like guidance from a real doctor, we’re here to help. Currently, we’re offering cost-free COVID-19 risk assessment and advice virtually, via ChatCare. 

Use some tried-and-tested relaxation techniques

Whether it’s simple meditation exercises, controlled breathing, or self-compassion practices, mindfulness offers a quick and effective anxiety relief.  

One method we love? Equal breathing, also known as box or square breathing. You can practice this technique from a sitting or lying-down position. Here’s how: 

  • Close your eyes. Breathe normally for several breaths, being mindful of the feelings of fullness and emptiness in your lungs
  • Next, slowly count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale through your nose
  • Then, exhale, keeping the same four-second count.
  • As you inhale and exhale, pay close attention to the feeling of your breath entering and exiting your lungs.

After a few minutes, you should be feeling calmer and more centered.

Want to try other relaxation techniques? Several apps can help you practice paced breathing for stress relief, such as Calm and Headspace

Keep family and friends close—even from afar

According to research, close relationships with family and friends are good for our overall health and happiness. If social distancing is triggering your anxiety, connecting with loved ones via phone or video Facetime may help ease loneliness. 

During these conversations, try not to amplify each other’s worries and fears. Instead, we recommend chatting about non-Covid-related topics, finding opportunities to laugh and to restore a much-needed sense of normalcy. 

However, if a friend or family member is contributing or exacerbating your anxiety, you may want to take a small break from them. It’s okay (and not at all selfish) to protect yourself from anyone who’s catastrophizing and increasing your stress. 

Another way to feel more connected during social distancing? Look out for opportunities to help your neighbors, family, friends, and coworkers. Whether it’s dropping groceries outside someone’s door or coordinating childcare, helping others gives us a sense of purpose—and takes our minds off of our worries for a while. 

Seek professional help if you need it

If you’re already vulnerable to anxiety and depression, you may find the coronavirus pandemic completely overwhelming. If you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms that interfere with your work, maintaining close relationships, or taking care of yourself, we’re here for you. 

Consider consulting with our doctors via ChatCare or booking a visit with one of our Mental Health providers. Either way, we can guide you towards the best solution for your mental health.

Because virtual options are by far the safest, most efficient way to address your healthcare needs, we’re asking our patients to start their care by connecting with a provider through a Phone Visit, or via ChatCare™.Schedule a visit today.

Who Rules the Healthcare World? Women.

International Women's Day Healthcare

Healthcare is powered by women.

78% of all healthcare workers are women. 

77% of hospital employees are women. 

But even though women outnumber men in the healthcare workforce, they’re still held back from attaining positions of power in the medical world. (In fact, at the top 100 U.S. hospitals, women make up only 27% of hospital boards.)

Today is International Women’s Day, and this year’s message is #EachforEqual. It challenges us to take action for equity, and think about how each one of us can help create a more gender-equal world.

At ZOOM+Care, gender equality is something we strive for daily. We believe that diverse perspectives breed innovation, and because of that, female-identifying employees play a vital role within our company. 

Currently, over 71% of ZOOM+Care’s workforce is female-identifying, and four out of ten of our senior leaders are women. While we’re proud of these numbers, we realize there is room for improvement. 

This International Women’s Day, we’re committing to recruit, nurture, and advance Zoomers of all genders to positions of leadership within our company.

What’s more, we promise to honor, empower, and amplify the voices of every female-identified person here—not just today, but every day.

To further celebrate the women of Zoom this International Women’s Day, we sat down with Dr. Kelli Westcott (an M.D. of Emergency Medicine at ZOOM+Super). Read on to hear her perspective on being a woman in the healthcare industry, what challenges she faces, and how Zoom helps her achieve a healthy work/life balance.

Kelli Westcott, M.D. of Emergency Medicine at ZOOM+Super.

1. Hi Kelly! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you tell us about what it’s like to work in the medical industry as a woman?

It is great fun! I chose to specialize in Emergency Medicine, which is, by far, the best team sport in medicine. I learned early on that I would be called the Registration Lady or the Nurse in the ED—even with an M.D. badge and a stethoscope around my neck. My initial indignation quickly gave way to the realization that I had no time to argue about job assumptions and gender stereotypes. If I have to remind the patient that I am their doctor, and the man in the room is actually their nurse, no problem. When I run a Code, the team knows who the doctor is, and we all work together to ensure the best outcomes. Gender bias is certainly not isolated to female physicians, and I have observed a shift toward more acceptance of female physicians during my years in practice.

2. What challenges do you face?

My initial challenge as a female physician was deciding how I was going to respond to gender bias when it cropped up. I served in the U.S. Navy as a physician after medical school and was told a number of times that females should not be allowed to be officers in the military or that enlisted personnel should have to take orders from officers. These are not fun experiences, but they certainly taught me resilience. Over time I have crafted responses that I hope are neither tolerant nor angry—usually with some humor. Some examples:

A patient says, “What, YOU are the doctor??” Me: “Yes! Can you believe they let girls into Medical School now?”

I have also done a full history and physical, given orders and placed a central line, and the patient asks, “When will the doctor be coming in?” It is very fun to smile and let them know I have been there all along.

3. What is your favorite part of working at ZOOM+Care?

ZOOM+Care has been a fantastic work experience for me. I love working with all the brilliant millennial minds who make Super run smoothly. Mark Zeitzer and Tony Westover hired me, and I have been treated as a physician and colleague from day one. The example that they and other ZOOM+Care leaders set ensures that Zoom+Care lives gender equality and inclusivity.

4. Is it easy or difficult to find work/life balance in your career at ZOOM+Care? How so?

Work-life balance is what we choose. When we enjoy what we do, and we love coming to work every day, we take that joy home to our families. ZOOM+Care definitely is a “joy” job, and my work-life balance is enriched because of it.

5. How does ZOOM+Care benefit you in your career?

ZOOM+Care Super shifts allow me to treat patients the way I want to be treated—seeing Sarah’s quickly, ensuring they get the right care in a short amount of time, getting them the meds they need within minutes, and not hours, of their arrival.

 I have also worked in very busy urban Emergency Departments, where ambulance patients wait on gurneys in the hall for hours, all rooms are full, and the waiting room is packed with frustrated and anxious souls. By the time I see many of these patients, they spend the first few minutes of our encounter complaining about their wait time, and I spend a few more minutes apologizing. This never happens at Super. Instead, I get to hear Sarah’s surprise that she is roomed quickly and often has an IV in, labs drawn, and meds are given within minutes of arrival. These interactions bring me joy and career satisfaction. 

Let’s all be #EachforEqual. Learn more about the mission of International Women’s Day (and how you can participate) here.

Your HPV Vaccine Questions, Answered

Syringe with flu vaccine. Hand holding syringe with hpv vaccine inside.

If there were a vaccine that could ward off STIs and cancers, people would line up for it—right? 

You’d think the answer to that question would be, unequivocally, “yes!” And yet, plenty of folks say “no” to a vaccine that prevents the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, or HPV. 

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. (It’s so prevalent, in fact, nearly 80% of people will get in their lifetimes.) Human papillomavirus is the cause of nearly all cervical cancers, and can also lead to cancers of the throat, vulva, vagina, penis or anus. 

Luckily, there’s a vaccine for that.

Gardasil 9, the HPV vaccine approved by the FDA in 2014, prevents infection from the HPV types that cause over 90% of these cancers. It also guards against two strains that are responsible for the majority of genital warts.

Since most adults have already been exposed to HPV, the vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11 or 12. However, it can be given as early as age nine—and as late as 26. (Some doctors even recommend it for people as old as 45.)

HPV vaccination is preventing cancer-causing infections—so why aren’t more teens and children receiving them? 

Despite its overwhelming safety and efficacy, fewer than half of American adolescents have been fully vaccinated against HPV. And while adoption is low for a variety of reasons, myths, misinformation, lack of knowledge about the vaccine still are a huge contributing factor. 

To help clear the air about this important and potentially life-saving vaccination, we sat down with Dr. Lisa Taulbee, a member of Zoom’s Women’s Health Team. Read on to learn more about the vaccine, who it’s for (spoiler: it’s not just for girls!), and why you should consider it for yourself or your child.

ZOOM+Care women's health doctor

1. Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about HPV vaccinations today. CaN You Tell us WHAT HPV is?

Human papillomavirus, known as HPV, is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. There are hundreds of different strains that infect different areas of the body—some may cause warts on the hands and feet, while others may infect the mucous membranes such as the genitals and cervix in women. The strains of HPV that are considered to be high-risk can cause certain types of cancer such as cervical cancer.

2. How common is the virus?

It’s estimated that about 80% of sexually active men and women will be exposed to HPV at some point in their lives—though many experts believe that all sexually active adults have been infected at some point in their lives

3. How does HPV spread?

HPV is sexually transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact—unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

4. What are the risk factors of HPV?

The risk factors of HPV are dependent upon a patient’s number of sexual partners, as well as their age. If they start having sex earlier, they’re more susceptible to infection.

5. What are some common misconceptions about HPV?

There’s a perception that men are not affected by (HPV) because they can be asymptomatic. The truth is, men and women alike can be exposed to the virus. Even though men might not show symptoms, they play a key role in the transmission of HPV to women.

It’s also important to note that there is no currently approved test for HPV in men.

7. What is the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is a series of three injections over the course of six months. At ZOOM+Care, we use a vaccine called Gardasil 9. It protects against nine strains of the virus, mostly targeting the high-risk strains that can cause certains types of cancer

8. Why are HPV vaccines important and what are the benefits?

To put it simply, HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. The HPV virus is estimated to cause nearly 35,000 cases of cancer in men and women every year in the U.S., and the vaccine can prevent more than 32,000 of these cancers from ever developing.

9.Who can benefit from the HPV vaccine? Is it just for women? 

The HPV vaccine benefits both males and females. It’s recommended to begin vaccination at age 11 or 12, but it’s approved through age 45.

11. Are there any side effects of the HPV vaccine?

The side effects associated with the HPV vaccination are injection site reactions, as well as possible headaches, nausea, fevers, and dizziness.

12. Are there any myths about the HPV vaccine?

There is a stigma surrounding the HPV vaccine because it targets an infection that is sexually transmitted—and it’s typically given to children who are not yet sexually active. Parents don’t like to think about the fact that their child will eventually be sexually active, but the point vaccinating early is to administer the vaccine well before sexual activity begins. It’s the best way to protect children from life-threatening cancers later on.

Many parents also have concerns that vaccination would encourage or support youth promiscuity, a belief which is not supported by data.

13. What else can you do to Prevent HPV?

Barrier methods, such as condoms, are a form of birth control that can prevent infection—though it isn’t 100% guaranteed to be effective. 1

Studies also show that having an IUD may lower person’s risk of cervical cancer by helping to fight off an HPV infection.

14. Can people already infected by HPV benefit from vaccination?

People already infected by HPV can still benefit from vaccination. There are several strains of the virus that this vaccine provides immunity against—so someone that’s been exposed to one strain can still prevent contraction of strains they have not yet been exposed to. 

More questions? We’re here. Schedule a Women’s Health visit today!


#TogetherWeZoom: Meet Megan Simmons, Recruiter and Talent Acquisition Specialist

#TogetherWeZoom talent acquisition

FROM THOUGHT LEADERS TO PART-TIME YOGA INSTRUCTORS TO MUSICIANS-ON-THE-SIDE, WE HAVE SOME INCREDIBLY TALENTED (AND INTENSELY INTERESTING!) FOLKS WORKING AT ZOOM+CARE. #TOGETHERWEZOOM IS OUR MONTHLY EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT, DESIGNED TO CELEBRATE THESE INDIVIDUALS. THROUGH IT, WE HOPE TO SHINE A LIGHT ON THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE SCENES, WORKING HARD TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE. 

In case our ten brand-spanking-new clinics haven’t tipped you off, we’re growing—and fast. But all those shiny new clinics? They need hardworking, passionate people to run them.

Enter Zoom’s Talent Acquisition team: the secret weapon behind our rapid growth.

Having the right people is vital to our success, and our recruiters are adept at finding candidates with the right skill set, and—most importantly—the right drive and personality to deliver the outstanding service you deserve.

As demand for ZOOM+Care increases, so will our presence in PNW neighborhoods—which means our recruiters have been (and will continue to be) busting their butts. So, in celebration of all the hard work they do, we sat down with one of our Talent Acquisition all-stars, Megan Simmons.

While Megan has only been with us since July 2019, she’s already had an incredible impact on ZOOM+Care. (Fun fact: she recently won a Zoomie Award for “Most Quality Hires.”)

Effusive, quick-witted, and a keen judge of character, Megan brightens our office with her smile and sly sense of humor every day. Get to know more about her below:

what inspires you most about your work?

Working at a company that is so mission-driven is powerful. We are working to improve healthcare accessibility and change the way that healthcare has traditionally operated. I get to hire incredibly talented people that will ultimately bring patient care into communities in Portland and Seattle and there is literally nothing cooler.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates? 

Do your research! We hire learners here at ZOOM+Care and want professionals who are excited to learn and grow with us. Show me you are adaptable, direct, and transparent.

What are three words you would use to describe ZOOM+Care?

Fast, Transparent, and Innovative. 

What is your favorite ZOOM+Care perk or benefit? 

Working with smart, hard-working coworkers who also enjoy the chicken strips at River Pig is a huge highlight. 

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

I enjoy waiting in lines because it builds anticipation. Waiting in line for a table at a restaurant? Don’t threaten me with a good time!

WANT A JOB THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE? WE’RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR TALENTED, CREATIVE, AND PASSIONATE PEOPLE TO HELP US FIX HEALTHCARE. EXPLORE OPEN OPPORTUNITIES. 

Be Your Own Valentine. Practice Self-Compassion this Feb 14th.

Practice self-compassion this Valentine's Day

Is there any holiday more divisive than Valentine’s Day? For many, it’s a day to rekindle romance and spend an evening with someone special. For others, it’s an excuse to celebrate all the love they feel, whether it’s love for friends, family members, or even four-legged companions. And for some, Valentine’s Day is just plain difficult—a glaring pink-and-red reminder of all their romantic disappointments. 

Whether you recently suffered a breakup, have a one-sided crush, or are experiencing hardcore Tinder fatigue, February 14th is likely to trigger some painful emotions. So, what should we do when everything is not coming up roses on V-Day? 

Science has a suggestion: Instead of focusing on romantic relationships, try showing love to yourself this Valentine’s Day. 

Psychologists refer to the act of being kind to yourself as “self-compassion” or self-love, and—according to burgeoning research—it’s associated with improved mental health and well-being. Numerous studies have linked self-compassion to reduced depression, stress, and disordered eating. Self-compassion may also boost happiness, self-esteem, and even immune function.

But, despite evidence that practicing self-compassion is beneficial, many resist practicing it. Some of us have a deeply rooted belief that negative self-talk is motivating—that it pushes us to work harder, perform better, and achieve our goals. Others worry that self-compassion is a form of weakness and self-indulgence. Many believe it’s a selfish act that will undermine motivation.

The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth, however. Research shows that being kind to ourselves helps us become stronger, more resilient, and less focused on personal issues. According to a 2011 paper published in Psychological Science, it can even help us overcome adversity. The study indicated that higher levels of self-compassion were related to improved emotional recovery following marital separation and divorce. In another study, veterans who measured higher on the self-compassion scale were less likely to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

So, how do we learn to practice the invaluable art of self-love and compassion? Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in self-compassion research and Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, describes self-compassion as a three-step process: 

Self-kindness. Chances are, you have a voice inside your head telling you how worthless, dumb, or inadequate you are. Self-kindness is all about replacing harsh self-criticism with kinder, gentler words. Instead of telling yourself, “I’m so unlovable. I’m going to be alone forever,” say “I’m lonelier than I’d like to be. Maybe now is the time to find ways to connect with others.” 

Common humanity. Acknowledge that suffering is a universal experience and not a personal failure. Tell yourself, “Everyone gets lonely sometimes. I’m not the only person who feels down today.” 

Mindfulness. Observe your negative emotions without focusing on them or suppressing them. Simply tell yourself, “I’m feeling sad and lonely  today, and I’m having a hard time.”

We understand that self-compassion seems strange and unnatural at first, so we’ve compiled a few simple exercises to get you started. Go on, send some of that loving-kindness your way this V-Day: 

4 Strategies for Self-Compassion

1. Ask yourself, “Would I talk to a friend this way?”

Think about a time a friend came to you for help after failing or getting rejected. How did you respond to them? What words did you choose? What tone of voice did you use when speaking with them? 

Now, think of a similar situation in which you were struggling, and compare your two answers. Were you as kind to yourself as you were to your friend?

Chances are, you’d never talk to a friend the way your inner voice speaks to you. 

2. Give yourself a loving touch. 

It feels good to receive a warm hug or comforting touch when you’re upset, right? While this exercise might seem silly, trying giving yourself a soothing touch next time you feel down. Place one hand over your heart, hug or gently rock your body, or simply hold your hands together in your lap.

According to Dr. Neff, “research indicates that physical touch releases oxytocin provides a sense of security, soothes distressing emotions and calms cardiovascular stress.”

 3. Memorize a set of compassionate phrases. 

When you find yourself caught in a barrage of self-criticism, close your eyes, and acknowledge your suffering. Say to yourself, “I feel sad. This is a difficult situation, and I’m having a hard time.” Then, remind yourself that everyone struggles. Say, “Sadness is part of life. Everyone feels this way sometimes. I’m not alone.” 

Now, replace your negative self-talk with words of kindness. “May I be kind to myself. May I forgive myself. May I be strong. May I accept myself as I am.”

4. Write yourself a self-compassion letter 

If you’re struggling with self-compassion, take some time to write yourself a short, encouraging letter. Here’s how: 

  • Think of something that you feel ashamed, insecure, or not good enough. It could be related to your personality, the way you behave, or your relationships. 
  • Once you identify something, describe how it makes you feel. Ashamed? Sorrowful? Angry? Try and be as honest with yourself as possible. 
  • Next, write yourself a letter expressing compassion for parts of yourself that you dislike. Take the perspective of a caring friend, and imagine the encouraging things they might say to you in this situation. 

Save the letter, and come back to it when you need a reminder to be self-compassionate. 

While self-compassion is a useful tool for boosting happiness, it’s important to stay in tune with yourself and identify when you need expert advice. If you or someone you know needs guidance this Valentine’s Day (and beyond), we’re here.