In these turbulent times, with the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 unfolding around us, the IBD team at Stanford Children’s Health has continued to prioritize community engagement; making the shift to offering virtual events and interactions that have provided their patients and families with uninterrupted clinical care, reliable sources of IBD-related information, and the ability to stay connected, ask questions and develop valuable coping skills to help navigate this unpredictable time successfully.

Their community engagement work was previously shared during our Fall Live Online Community Conference and will be highlighted again during our December 2 Virtual Community Conference (RSVP to join). Alison Kotzen RN, MSN, C-PNP, wrote the following about her team’s engagement efforts during the time of COVID-19.

With COVID-19 impacting the way our team was able to continue connecting with our IBD patients and families, we set a goal to rapidly identify and develop virtual events to engage with our community safely during a time of crisis. Through these events we wanted to be able to provide relevant education related to managing IBD in this new and unfolding era of COVID-19 and create a space for our patients and families to ask questions and connect with providers in real time from the safety of their own homes.

Our IBD team hosted three virtual community town halls between March and August 2020. Two of these town halls featured input from colleagues in infectious disease specialties. In addition to answering questions submitted by our patients and families in advance of the events, we addressed general COVID-19 data, general precautions, and recommendations for continued IBD management, phased openings and school safety.

During the same time period we also hosted three virtual Holistic Healing for IBD mindfulness events including Mindful Movement & Yoga, Mindful Cooking and Eating, and Mindful Gardening. The goal of these events was to enable our IBD community members to develop timely and relevant coping strategies for managing IBD in the stressful setting of a global pandemic.

Additionally, at the outset of our area’s shelter-in-place order, our clinical team rapidly pivoted from in-person visits to majority telehealth visits in an effort to safely and consistently care for our patients without requiring in-person interactions.

Our team was inspired by ImproveCareNow's model of provider/patient/parent partnership and applied this type of multi-stakeholder collaboration as we planned our events.

Presently, we have no additional town hall events scheduled, however, we continue to query our IBD community and Family Advisory Council and plan to host additional town halls as the need arises. In the future we plan to host quarterly, 1-hour Holistic Healing events to continue to support the development of robust coping skills amongst our IBD patients and families. Clinically, we continue to see patients via telehealth whenever possible and are phasing in-person visits back in when appropriate and necessary for patient care.

We want to share seamlessly so other teams can use what we have learned and developed to either begin offering or enhance ongoing virtual community engagement events and interactions with their local IBD communities. To help, we have created a Virtual Event Planning Checklist that other teams can use to develop and structure virtual community engagement events. 

Written by: Alison Kotzen RN, MSN, C-PNP, Stanford Children's Health Team Member


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