We encourage all of our patients and stakeholders to complete the 2020 Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) Customer Satisfaction Survey. Your answers and comments will help make mental health and addiction services better in Indiana. The survey is NOT mandatory and no one will ask you why you don’t want to complete it. Nothing on the survey will identify you, unless you choose to put your name on it. Please know this will enable us to contact you about your comments.
Although yet to be designated as an official federal holiday, please allow me to recognize this very special occasion by wishing everyone a Blessed Juneteenth! Please note I intentionally replaced the usual “Happy” with “Blessed” to hopefully add more solemnity and significance to the traditional observance of what was originally known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day. Also, please be sure to put some sauce in the gumbo or gospel in the word, so it rolls off the tongue like Grandma and our ancestors intended. Like in the Beatitudes or old Negro Spirituals, this day isn’t just “Blessed”, it’s “Blesid!”
Hopefully, most of you are well aware by now that Juneteenth commemorates the day Union Army General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 to announce that all slaves in the state were free. Of course, this happened nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, however, some 250,000 enslaved Black people were left unaware because Texas was considered the most remote of slave states.
Another misconception is that Juneteenth marked the end of slavery in the United States, although that inhumane institution was not officially abolished until ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865. Naturally, the formerly enslaved Negroes in Galveston celebrated immediately after General Granger’s announcement, however, the annual celebration of Jubilee Day was actually organized by freedmen in Texas the following year. The commemoration spread throughout Texas from there and by the 1890’s Jubilee Day had become known as Juneteenth.
Today Juneteenth celebrations are being held all over the nation and despite what someone in higher office thinks, Juneteenth is widely known throughout the African American community and in fact is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in forty-nine of fifty states (Bonus points if you can name the lone state that does not). Juneteenth is considered the longest running African American holiday and for many it’s considered “America’s Second Independence Day.
Juneteenth celebrations have drawn thousands of people and usually include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing of Negro Spirituals and traditional songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Life Every Voice and Sing”, and readings of noted works by African American writers like Maya Angelou, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin. Juneteenth celebrations are also known for elaborate soul food meals, picnics, cookouts, people dressed in their Sunday best. And just in case you didn’t know, strawberry soda is the traditional drink associated with Juneteenth celebrations and of course barbecue is the centerpiece.
Recently, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic and after the brutal murder of George Floyd and too many other Black people at the hands of law enforcement, the celebration of Juneteenth became embroiled in controversy when President Donald J. Trump decided to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma of all places. It’s bad enough the event was originally scheduled for today, June 19, 2020, but it was especially insulting that it was taking place near the site of the historic Greenwood District, better known as Black Wall Street, which was tragically burned to the ground during the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Fortunately, The White House bowed to public pressure or less likely, social consciousness, and rescheduled the President’s political pride fest for tomorrow.
Today, many of you came to work at Edgewater Health stressed over current events, worried about COVID-19, and burdened with 401 years of racial discrimination, inequality and oppression. Some may have hoped for a brief respite from civil upheaval and maybe even a paid day off to commemorate Juneteenth. Unfortunately, until the holiday is officially designated at the federal level, as many congressional representatives will vote for in the House in the coming days, most American businesses, governmental offices, schools, and financial institutions will remain open. Nevertheless, until that day comes when every American, regardless of race, color or creed, can properly and officially observe Juneteenth, please take a moment to reflect on the historical nature and tremendous significance of this day. And have a strawberry soda on me!
GENERAL MILITARY ORDER NO. 3
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
A funny thing happened on the way to work recently. I put on my face mask (color coordinated, of course), drove through traffic that seemed just as busy and congested as ever, passed under electronic signs urging people to, “STAY HOME! ESSENTIAL TRIPS ONLY! SLOW DOWN!”, grabbed a cup of coffee from a masked barista, got my temperature checked by a masked (but smiling, I could tell) medical assistant, and maintained proper social distancing all the way to my office.
What’s funny about that, you say? The fact that I did all that without as much as a second thought.
COVID-19 may have infected millions worldwide, including 28,705 Hoosiers and 534 Gary residents, but it has also given us a new normal. It is amazing, though perhaps predictable, how fast we’ve all gotten used to social separation, curbside pickup, single-ply tissue (not on my planet!), Zoom conferencing, no sports, and scrubbing in like brain surgeons.
It may not be funny, however, it is unbelievable how quickly we humans adapt to trying circumstances, like pandemics, and acclimate to new customs that were unimaginable only two months ago.
Throughout history, the world has faced many calamities, including a few far worse than COVID-19. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 infected 500 million people, about a third of the world’s population at the time. It killed upwards of 50 million including 675,000 Americans. World War I claimed 16 million lives. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and other natural disasters kill around 90,000 people and affect close to 160 million EVERY YEAR!
Through each plague, each pestilence, each natural or man-made disaster, human beings find a way to survive. Scientists discover new vaccines, doctors develop new life-saving procedures, engineers design new protective equipment and safety gear (N95, anybody?), and each triumphant generation takes its place in history.
As we speak, scientists at research labs, global health organizations, pharmacological companies, colleges and universities, and quasi-governmental institutions, are feverishly working on vaccines and cures for the novel coronavirus. Medical experts and government officials estimate up to a year or more before they’re successful. Fortunately for us, they won’t stop trying until they are.
Here at Edgewater Health we’re doing our level best to battle COVID-19 and protect our community from its ravages. We’re wearing masks and checking temperatures and testing patients and disinfecting common areas and providing telehealth services to folks too afraid to venture out from their own homes.
Each and every day throughout this pandemic, we stand on the front lines and do whatever is necessary to triumph over the calamity of our lifetime. Occasionally we do extraordinary things and some may even call us heroes. At the end of the day, we’re just doing our jobs and taking our place in history in the process.
When COVID-19 dissipates and this global health crisis finally fades into history, how will you be remembered? Will you be the conscientious citizen who consistently obeyed executive orders to stay at home? Will you be the Good Samaritan who checked on seniors and did their grocery shopping when needed? Will you be the parent who faithfully guided their child through social isolation, boredom, and distance learning? Will you be the dependable “essential” who came to work every day and did the job no matter what? Will you be one of the countless, nameless, faceless (or face masked) heroes who helped America and the world defeat COVID-19? When all is said and done, how will history remember you?
As the saying goes, “Rumors of COVID-19’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”
While dozens of states have begun relaxing social distancing restrictions and started reopening businesses, positive cases of COVID-19 infection and deaths from the virus keep rising. At the time of this writing, 18,630 Hoosiers have tested positive and a staggering 1,062 have died. In Gary, there are currently 414 cases and 15 deaths. Needless to say, COVID-19 is still a threat and keeping up your guard and doing everything possible to protect you and your family is highly advisable.
Although there is no definitive COVID-19 survival kit, there are many resources available to help you stay safe and healthy during the pandemic:
For Hoosiers the best source for current COVID-19 information and resources remains the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) 2019 Coronavirus website: https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/
One of the newest and most informative resources is BE WELL INDIANA! This website contains a wealth of valuable information and links to additional resources compiled by the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) at: https://bewellindiana.com/
The site includes:
Tools for Daily Coping
Best Ways to Prevent Getting Sick
What to Do if You Are Sick
Coronavirus Crisis Counseling
State Health Insurance Program (SHIP)
Indiana Unemployment Resource
Child Care Resources
SNAP, Cash Assistance, Health Coverage
Federal Health Insurance Marketplace
Covering Kids and Families of Indiana
Mental Health & Wellness Resources
Mental Health & Wellness for Youth & Families
Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Resources
Mental Health Self Assessment (Take a Mental Health Test!)
And these important telephone numbers:
Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) COVID-19 Call Center open daily 8a-midnight (877) 826-0011
Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255
The Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 (800) 985-5990
National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233
National Addiction & Recovery Helpline (800) 662-HELP (4357)
If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s productive ways of sheltering in place, creative ways of buying toilet paper, and novel ways of taking care of essential business like keeping doctor’s appointments.
To help accomplish that last goal, Edgewater Health offers a new telehealth service that allows our patients to visit primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and mental health therapists virtually from the comfort of their own laptops or smartphones. With just a few keystrokes or a simple telephone call, you access the following services:
Routine Adult Well Care
Chronic Disease Management
For those isolated at home, those unable to travel, or those who simply want a safe and easy way to visit their doctor, call Edgewater Health at (219) 885-4264 or our primary care office at (219) 884-4900 to schedule a telehealth appointment today!
New Food Safety Guidelines:
The USDA is not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.
According to the United Fresh Produce Association there are no clinically-confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the consumption of fresh produce or food sold through traditional retail outlets. As consumers select their produce, adhering to food safety guidance is critical. We encourage consumers to wash their hands, and wash and prepare their produce following FDA recommendations.
COVID-19 Testing Information:
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) continues to focus on testing the highest risk Hoosiers including:
Anyone who is admitted to the hospital whose physician is concerned that their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19.
Symptomatic healthcare workers (inpatient, outpatient, nursing home, and other long-term service facilities) and first responders who provide direct care to at-risk patients.
Symptomatic long-term care facility residents or staff who have direct contact with patients.
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients. You can also consult a healthcare provider through telehealth, if that is an option.
The ISDH call center for healthcare providers and members of the public who have concerns about COVID-19 is now staffed 24/7 at (877) 826-0011.
In the interest of public safety and in an effort to protect our staff, patients, and residents, the following COVID-19 policies are in effect immediately:
Edgewater Health is restricting access to our facilities to patients and employees only!
No visitors are allowed without an appointment, prior approval, or authorization.
Anyone presenting with COVID-19 symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, high fever, or labored breathing will be required to wear a face mask.
Everyone entering our facilities will be required to maintain social distancing protocols by remaining at least six feet apart.
Physical contact should be reduced or eliminated if possible (i.e., elbow bump instead of handshake)
Wash hands often and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with uncleaned hands.
Cough or sneeze into inner elbow or use tissue and immediately discard.
Avoid large crowds, meetings with more than ten people are prohibited.
Please do not enter if you have traveled internationally within the last 14 days.
Postpone your visit if you have recently had a fever or cough or have come in contact with anyone diagnosed with influenza or COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
GOVERNOR HOLCOMB UPDATES ACTIONS
The governor has announced new actions and signed executive orders as Indiana continues to deal with the novel coronavirus:
The state of emergency has been extended an additional 30 days after it expires on April 5.
All K-12 public schools will remain closed until May 1.
Non-public schools are also ordered closed.
All state-mandated assessments are cancelled for the current academic year.
State income tax payments are delayed until July 15.
Penalties will be waived for 60 days for property tax paid after May 11.
Providers of essential utility services such as gas and electric, broadband, telecom, water and wastewater are prohibited from discontinuing service to any customer during the public health emergency.
The state’s application to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was approved on Wednesday. This program provides targeted, low-interest loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses and nonprofits overcome the temporary loss of revenue as a result of the coronavirus.
No residential eviction proceedings or foreclosure actions may be initiated during the public health emergency.
Participants in the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are not required to make minimum payments.
Telehealth services for mental health, substance use disorder and prescribing for Medicaid covered services will be expanded.
Mental health professionals are permitted to practice via telemedicine.
Under the current guidance for schools, 273 public school districts are closed, using e-learning days, or on spring break and have announced a future closure. The Department of Education is working with the remaining 16 school corporations to determine their next steps and needs.
Bars, nightclubs and restaurants are required to close to in-person patrons and may provide take-out and delivery services through the end of March.
Hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers should cancel and/or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures immediately. This action will help the healthcare system conserve resources and personnel necessary to meet emerging health needs.
Physicians should continue to perform critical procedures necessary to prevent short-term and/or long-term adverse effects to their patients’ overall health
The state’s Emergency Operations Center has been raised to a Level 1 status and will work in conjunction with the incident command center at the Indiana State Department of Health for planning, coordination, predictive analysis and other functions.
State employees will maximize the use of remote work and meet virtually whenever possible while maintaining operations. Non-essential in-person meetings will be limited to 10 persons or less and should meet virtually whenever possible. High-risk individuals should not attend meetings in person.
State employees over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions are advised to work from home, and agencies should identify work that can be accomplished remotely for those individuals. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, which are closed on Mondays, will close to the public beginning Tuesday.
The visitors center at White River State Park will close.
Indiana state parks and recreation centers, including state park inns, remain open. Restaurants will convert operations to take-out and delivery.
State agencies already are developing remote work plans for employees and will continue to implement them while maintaining necessary state services. Employees who work outdoors are encouraged to practice social distancing.
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has suspended rules requiring certain unemployment insurance claimants to physically appear to continue their unemployment insurance eligibility
The DWD will also request flexibility under federal and state law to expand eligibility for claimants and ease burdens on employers.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will postpone the inaugural Indiana Global Economic Summit, scheduled for April 26-28.
Communities are encouraged to work together to provide child care options for all who need assistance and delivery services of meals and other necessities for senior citizens.
Hoosiers who can donate blood are encouraged to visit local blood centers. Blood supplies are low. Please follow the guidance at http://www.redcross.org
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prescription? Don’t Get Frantic. Get Informed!
Everybody’s talking about it. What’s the latest news on the coronavirus and what can I do to stay safe?
Well, for starters you can watch this space for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic. Edgewater Health cares about the community and the people we serve, so in the interest of health and safety, we will present accurate information about the state of the health emergency, as well as practical guidance on preventive measures.