The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s lives in many ways, including how we grieve death. For most, typical rituals, such as hospital visitations, final goodbyes and funerals, have been taken away due to necessary social distancing.
UnityPoint Health – Abbe Community Mental Health, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is expanding its mental health care services to be there for its community during this difficult time. Through a free online support group, the health system is helping individuals cope with loss as part of the new normal. Sessions are offered twice a week. In addition to its toll on mental health, bereavement also is tied to physical health risks, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
As the pandemic continues to play out, specialized bereavement support services are expected to grow in demand. A University of Southern California study revealed that if 10% of the U.S. population becomes infected with COVID-19, more than one million Americans will lose a parent and more than two million will lose at least one grandparent.
UnityPoint Health is finding other ways to go virtual to keep Iowans healthy by providing greater access to high-quality care. Through a wide range of touch points, the health system’s telehealth visits have increased by 1,111%. The number of specialties available has increased from six to 54. And the number of UnityPoint Heath providers using telehealth has increased from 15 to 902. Settings include homes, clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing facilities and more.