Wellness Center Demonstrates How #BlueJaysCare During Online Transition

As COVUD-19 turns life upside down for many throughout the world, the faculty and staff at Westminster College want our students to know that #BlueJaysCare. By encouraging students to reach out during the transition from a physical to a virtual campus, the Wellness Center is just one department within the Blue Jay Nation that seeks to help others.

Kim Lorentz, Health Services Director and Adult Nurse Practitioner, says telehealth visits for both standard medical care and counseling are available during regular office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling (573) 592-5361. Consultations also are available over the phone or via email.

Above, Kim Lorentz, Health Services Director and Adult Nurse Practitioner, provides a telehealth consultation. Lorentz is able to visit with patients with general medical problems via Zoom.

“I am providing telehealth visits for continuation of health care, medicine refills and other health-related issues that have arisen,” Lorentz explains.

Likewise, Sarah Stevens, Assistant Director of Counseling Services, and part-time counselor Lauren Williams currently counsel students online from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stevens works from her home in Columbia, MO, and says she understands a little bit of the stresses involved in sudden online transitioning ― she currently is adjusting to working at home with her 11-month-old daughter.

Sarah Stevens, Assistant Director of Counseling Services, currently counsels students online from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. via Zoom.

“I think this transition to online has, understandably, created some additional anxiety for students, staff, faculty and administrators alike,” Stevens reflects. “Additionally, being isolated from the majority of your friends, family and even random social interactions can take a toll on most people in terms of their mood and stress levels.”

Keep reading to learn more about how the Wellness Center is helping in the transition from in-person to virtual visits, and find out what Lorentz and Stevens suggest for staying healthy and connected in the weeks to come.

What challenges have you run into since the Wellness Center began offering virtual services?

Lorentz: Overall, it’s been going well but has been an adjustment for both patients and myself. The virtual visits have been my favorite, because I get to see their faces and interact with them. There are components that are obviously lost in doing a virtual visit. I am unable to obtain blood pressure or oxygen saturation, to listen to lungs or see their overall appearance. These are issues many health-care providers are working around during this time. Overall, patients have been happy to still have services available to them in the comfort of their homes.

Stevens: I’m fortunate that many students have access to strong enough internet connections, so we can see each other on video, but there’s always going to be an added layer of connection when you are physically in the same room with someone. With that being said, we are still able to conduct full counseling sessions and see the students we care so much about, which is something I’m really grateful for.

What is the most important advice you can give right now for those who are experiencing anxiety concerning COVID-19?

Lorentz: We are here for them. For general medical concerns, I am here at the Wellness Center if students, faculty and staff have questions. Also, I spend time every day participating in webinars and researching information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins, etc. If there are questions, please reach out, and I will find an answer.

Stevens: On my end, the most important thing I could tell someone right now is to just take it day by day. We live in a world where planning ahead is typically necessary and highly rewarded. With so much uncertainty right now, it’s important to let yourself handle each day as it comes instead of coming up with expectations for the next several weeks or months. If you are someone who does better with structure, you can still create a schedule for yourself on a day-to-day basis without trying to plan too far ahead and predict any long-term outcomes. Also, we need to remember to be patient with ourselves as we make this transition, as it is uncharted territory for most people, and there is not a right or wrong way to do it.

How do you personally unwind and handle stress?

Lorentz: I practice yoga, I am doing Zoom fitness with friends I get outside when possible.

Stevens: I have been trying to get outside for some sun and fresh air. I also periodically change the place I work while I’m inside, so it doesn’t feel like too much of the same setting, and I take short breaks every few hours in order to do something I enjoy. I’ve been trying to do different activities every day instead of just watching TV, which is normally my go-to! I’ve been reading, taking walks, baking and taking on some house projects that I’ve been putting off.

Wellness Center Recommendations for Handling the Unpredictability of COVID-19

Lorentz and Stevens recommend the following:

  • Create a routine. Try to set a schedule. Practice personal hygiene and get dressed as you normally would.
  • Develop healthy habits. In addition to regular hand-washing, make sure you’re following the other basics you’ve always been taught: Shoot for seven to eight hours of sleep per night, maintain a balanced diet and try to make time for exercise each day.
  • Avoid excess. Eating or drinking too much, watching too much television (especially stressful news coverage), sleeping all day and the overusing social media are all areas that can cause people problems in the long run.
  • Connect with others. Reach out to friends and family. If you’re having difficulty finding someone to talk to, please contact the Wellness Center. We’re here to help!
  • Practice meditation, mindfulness or other spiritual activities. Free apps such as Headspace or Calm are found to be helpful. Otherwise, set aside a few minutes each day where you can unplug from your devices, breathe deeply and relax. If you can, go outside and enjoy the springtime weather.

For more information on services offered by the Wellness Center, please call (573) 592-5361. Faculty and staff who are seeking counseling services may contact Human Resources at HR@wcmo.edu or (573) 592-5226 for assistance. To maintain anonymity, they also can refer to Page 6 of the 2020 benefits booklet.

Watch for more stories in Westminster Today about Blue Jays caring for Blue Jays. And make sure to follow our #BlueJaysCare hashtag on social media.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.