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.
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Dr. Danita Johnson Hughes
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.”
By Danita Johnson Hughes
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?
Fortunately, only you can answer that.
Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D., is president and CEO of Edgewater Health. Contact her at email@example.com.
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:
And these important telephone numbers:
If you’re one of the 34 million Americans living with diabetes visit the Diabetes Self-Management link at https://www.reviews.com/utilities/internet/diabetes-self-management/
And don’t forget…if you’re stuck at home, self-quarantining, isolated, or simply sheltering in place, you can still schedule a virtual visit with your doctor via telehealth by calling (219) 884-4900.
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:
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:
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.
For more information, visit: https://in.gov/coronavirus
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:
GOVERNOR HOLCOMB UPDATES ACTIONS
The governor has announced new actions and signed executive orders as Indiana continues to deal with the novel coronavirus:
For more information about the state’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic visit: http://in.gov/coronavirus
These are the latest directives from Governor Holcomb:
More information may be found at the ISDH website at https://on.in.gov/COVID19 and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
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.
The Indiana Department of Health (ISDH) has issued the following guidelines for public gatherings as ordered by Governor Eric J. Holcomb:
Certain activities are essential to the functioning of our state and must continue. The goal of these recommendations is to prevent people from being together unnecessarily where viruses can be easily spread to others. This guidance does not apply to essential activities or services. Hence, this guidance does not apply to the workplace, essential public transportation and travel, or shopping.