Integrative Health Team Helps Children, Families and Staff During the Pandemic

Published on in CHOP News

The Integrative Health Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) takes a holistic, whole-body approach to care. That didn’t stop when the COVID-19 pandemic upended healthcare, along with everything else in children’s lives.

The nimble Integrative Health team has rallied to meet the COVID-19 crisis head-on. Whether it was quickly shifting our yoga therapy from in-person to virtual through the CHOP Telehealth Program or making sure CHOP’s doctors and nurses had resources to help them deal with the added stress, the Integrative Health team was there.

One 9-year-old cancer patient who received yoga virtually loves his sessions with CHOP yoga instructor Tonia D. Kulp, MS, C-IAYT, so much, he made a special door tag for his room that read, “Yoga Session in Progress. Do Not Disturb.”

At home with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Isolation and uncertainty are common feelings during the time of COVID-19 — especially for patient families that feel isolated. The Integrative Health team offered free online yoga group classes to families with a child who has IBD. By connecting virtually with a yoga instructor, patients were able to practice yoga and mindfulness techniques that were individualized and specific to someone living with IBD.

Patients interacted with the instructor by asking questions in real time and has the opportunity to connect with other children in the session, making them feel a little less alone.

In the Emergency Department

Any trip to the Emergency Department (ED) can be stressful. Throw in the fear of catching COVID-19, and the anxiety was more heightened than normal.

An interdisciplinary group at CHOP developed a support plan for children and families who visit the ED that included wellness resources such as Integrative Health worksheets and educational handouts that help families relax through breathing techniques and yoga meditations.

In this way, we help restore a sense of calm and well-being. The Emergency Department can also refer children to Telehealth Program-supported yoga therapy at no cost.

Helping those on the front lines

Healthcare workers at CHOP have adapted to the challenges presented by COVID-19. In response to stressors that impact a clinician’s day-to-day activities and personal well-being, the Integrative Health team has developed a spectrum of supportive materials.

The Integrative Health team create well-being webinars, daily meditation call-ins, positive blog posts and a series of virtual courses for nursing staff. Clinicians learn techniques to curb stress and reset their perspective.

Hundreds of CHOP staff members currently benefit from self-care resources — making them more resilient and ever present with their patients.