Kimiya Amjadi and Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh

Recorded January 6, 2021 Archived January 6, 2021 40:02 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003447


Dr. Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh (39) has a conversation with her colleague, Dr. Kimiya Amjadi (54), about how they have mobilized during the pandemic to provide mental health resources for healthcare workers through the Caring for Our Caregivers Initiative.

Subject Log / Time Code

S talks about how the Caregivers Initiative started in response to support healthcare workers' mental health during the pandemic.
K talks about her experience navigating the pandemic as a health worker: "We didn't know how to protect ourselves as a healthcare professional."
K talks about the rise of the levels of anxiety and burnout during the pandemic, and the increase in rates of suicide by healthcare professionals.
S talks about the benefits people have experienced through their initiative. K talks about the neglect of mental health in healthcare.
S talks about the research on PTSD among healthcare workers, and her worries about what will happen after the vaccination.


  • Kimiya Amjadi
  • Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:04 All I made was excited. I'm 39 years old from Chicago, Illinois. Today is January 7th, 2021 and I will be having a conversation with my colleague and friend doctor kimiya amjadi. Hello. My name is today is January 7th, 2021 and my friend and I were here talking about caring for our caregivers initiative.

00:40 Do you want us a little bit about this? We are right now in the middle of the covid-19 worldwide pandemic that has brought everything to its knees. So everybody we're about to think almost what 10 months then and everybody has been on lockdown quarantines and the healthcare workers in the hospitals are understaffed as a lot of them get covid-19 Toledo. They are working ridiculous hours and under a great deal of stress. So this is a little bit of what we are going to be talking about. So do you want to tell speak a little bit about the initiative and snorting it?

01:40 Psychology Association it was it's a nonprofit group that was established in 1997 by a bunch of healthcare workers that found that they were their patients were gaining a lot of benefit went to utilize teachings of Sufism in there were so that's kind of a larger organization. But what happened was in when this occurred in in February 2020 in April, we saw what was happening to healthcare workers, and we just wanted to help them in any way we can talk a little bit about our experiences and caring for caregivers initiative and basically this initiative we on social studies that have been done on a psychology.

02:39 Foundation has shown that this and it increases resiliency. And then one of the techniques of this is a meditation technique called 10 are closed in practice that involves visualisations mind relaxation progressive muscle relaxation deep breathing meditation and then use the hospitals in University, but it's the study to show that it when your stress in times when stress is escalated. So in high-stress situations as the normal population how many more of your stressful and

03:39 And we thought our healthcare workers right now in the hospital to help them deal with this weekend's up with the chemicals Association organization that creates an app with this these practices and they donated and we loaded them onto tablets and have been donating them to hospitals around the globe. And what is crazy is, you know, like in the beginning

04:28 You would run to Target by a tablet like try to figure out how do you upload information on to the tablet? How do you create a website so very Grassroots, but that's why we started this initiative. And so if you can talk a little bit about it and just share a little bit about what was your experience when kobenhavns like as a healthcare worker. What is it that you went through?

05:04 Well, we set em, it's been a challenging year definitely things have changed quite a bit. We're completely in a different situation. Now today compared to when this whole thing started back in February more chill 2020, which was in the beginning of the pandemic when we were first introduced there were so many unknowns back then it was all knew we'd know much about the virus itself. We didn't know anything about it. If you need me, I'll lagid the transmission was it how it was transmitted between person to person vs. Person to animals or animals to people we didn't know how to effectively treated. We didn't know what the risk factors or I'm a pediatrician so we just didn't know how it was behaving in kids until

06:03 When did it affect different age groups differently did it affect children differently compared to adults and difference for you know, we just didn't know much about it the scientific information to research everything was unclear. It wasn't just out yet. So they're actual disease and illness the virulence and how deadly it was by itself when he created a lot of anxiety and fear. But in addition to that once you also brought in all the unknowns and all the luck in the lack of information that was associated with our understanding of the virus itself really created that was there a panic and fear. Honestly. We just didn't know how to deal with it. I mean if we are in a different situation now compared to back them, but we

07:03 He was just scared cuz we didn't know how to protect ourselves as a healthcare professionals. We didn't know what the proper PPE was. How well is it going to protect me in my visit with my patient when I'm in the room for 5 minutes vs. 15 minutes is there was a shortage of hand sanitizers. Everything was on back order to wear no mask. We didn't even have surgical masks. I remember I would ask my office manager. When are we going to get more mass than and she would say everything is on backorder? I was working without a mask for 2 weeks, can even once we did get something in by some kind of a donation from a construction company or what-have-you. We would ration or masks the same mass that was being you.

08:03 For what supposed to be used for one patient at a time was being used repeatedly maybe for a day and then even after the day we would store it in a bag and go back to it after a few days and you reuse it again. It was it was ridiculous. I made sounds really excessive now but back then that's what we were dealing with our whole procedure you everything we constantly have to modify everyday on a daily basis. We have to modify what we were doing because every day we were getting new updates from the CDC new updates from the World Health Organization new things and you guys were coming out from the hospital. So unless you stayed up with everything they today you will fall behind. So every day we have to modify how many patients be starting a day how much time we gave between patient.

09:03 The nurses have to go in clean the rooms between patients people were so scared that they wanted all the respiratory patients or the coughing patients to be seen at the end of the day versus at the beginning of the day as some people slow my car keys. They didn't even allow them inside the office. They would go to the patient's car to the vehicle to see the patients because we just didn't know what we were dealing with me. We didn't want them to come inside and call for an hour. Well, you know little 2 month old babies. So it was just really an atmosphere of fear of anxiety of unknowns uncertainties and on top of all of that, you know, my husband and my daughter were all healthcare workers. We didn't know what we're bringing home from our daily routines. We didn't know what we were bringing home. I'll be in during Jamie. Are we endangering each other?

10:03 Endangering our older parents, you know our other family members, you know, we we just didn't know house how to protect ourselves and how to make sure that the transmission was a to a limited amount between each other. I mean to be the way it was just a really a lot of unknowns and and fears and it affected our life our livelihood and it was very stressful very frustrating and I'm sure this was experienced by you as well Clinical Psychology as so it was a little different for me and that you know, I just went to tell if there are sessions our daily and so I was doing

11:03 But the thing about therapy is that which a very different elements and there wasn't a distance between what they're going through what I'm experiencing as a psychologist. I'm supposed to help them kind of come out. So it's really as bizarre thing. But a lot of my patients are also health care worker and I remember one of my patients

11:40 She said this is the beginning of the day and they gave her an n95 mask and they said Okay, and she saw it. Am I safe with us now and they're like, yes, and she's like, okay then in Hubbard guard.

12:16 I don't see it. You know for 7 Days some people don't have symptoms. Like I have no idea about her own mortality and life. She's worried about something. She said she would go home and she would drip in the garage and take off all her clothes cuz you didn't know that has it on the banister on her way up there and tell her you heard. What am I going to eat? And then the next day she goes back and she's doing this and then at this point, you're really crazy.

13:16 Patient the only source of support for a lot of them as the patients are dying right that they were going through your shoes everything off even know that you infected. So, yeah, I mean it was right now.

14:16 Overwhelming we have to learn how to do telemedicine. We didn't have that soon you and changing rapidly. So I'm so glad because the level of job burnout the level of anxiety and stress was already on the rise before the pandemic and when this hit us hard care worker was just amazing doing this pandemic. So that's, you know part of the reason.

15:15 Burnout was on the rise with healthcare workers and they actually have the highest rate of suicide amongst any profession and that's when we started this initiative, you know, we're reaching out to hospitals in order to donate. These were like here just have something that will decrease some of the stress in the hospital and you you are the one who you've been in love is like calling hospitals individually one at a time. You know, where I am right now at the end of the year where in / 290 Hospital you have called and spoke little bit about what that was. What did they say? What what are they experiencing? How did they take it? Sure. I mean this was a very personal thing for me because I wanted you know as as Physicians you always want to help people no matter who they are.

16:15 It was and I was experiencing the same thing. I was going through the same thing. So it was very relatable. I would I could definitely I knew what they were experiencing and I think that needed a little bit more easier for me to be able to reach out to them because it was that level of understanding in the background in the beginning of the panda make it was It was kind of you know, I have to explain everything about to the hospital because there are no such things as well mushrooms that much attention brought to the mental health of the healthcare workers mention suicide. The attention wasn't there until the pandemic hit us and in the beginning when I call them I had to just say hey, this is for them. This is for them and we're trying to help them try to help.

17:15 They're mentally not be able to help them with mentally and able to help them to cope with what they're going through. They are suffering There Was You know, the whole concept was very big do for a lot of them. So when I was calling them early on I had to do a lot of explaining and educating about the need for such programs in general, but especially now

17:41 Lupe's programs even more so once you know, I told him about the research and the PTSD and the job burn down unless we do something into being something they became more open and as time goes by it became easier and easier since the hospitals actually started to see the need and since they saw that became more tangible to them. It's created a sense of bonding. They were actually very impressed by our generosity and what we were doing something couldn't understand that all of this was for free and it was all donation-based and run 20 years and it was just specifically for the healthcare workers didn't have to buy anything in or subscribe to any program. So they were very pleasantly surprised and once they understood what we were actually offering people so grateful.

18:41 The conversation we have sometimes it became very touched me next time. I remember I got you know, both parties will get so emotional. It was one time. I had this conversation with one of the hospital employees in the state of Utah and she was so touched by this gift that she told me how wonderful it would be her daughter in the state of Washington. She was a ICU nurse if she could get if she could get these tablets if she would be able to benefit from them. She was so worried about her that she hadn't seen her for four months. In fact if she hadn't seen him for a long time, so I have to buy them and then I called her back and I told her I get to this information and she was just couldn't believe it she was so

19:41 It was so wonderful to see that we did something good. I mean it and it felt really good to me to be able to provide a little bit of relief. I mean, I would I would get emails from all over the nation sing it can you do a hospital. Can you go to the butt to your point? This happened to me as well wear this woman contacted us and said my daughter is a nurse and she's remember somewhere somewhere else and was like, you know, I I know she's stressed out. Can you can you send them and then donated or like I know that look will hear every time we heard like a news story of nurses that were struggling we were okay. Let's find the hospital find out who we talked.

20:41 One of the hospitals in Hawaii in Honolulu. And the nurse call me back. And she said do you think you think that another facility? That's not a hospital. It's a nursing care long-term care facility. Do you think they can benefit enough? You know, we never said no to anybody. So it was so nice. She was so cute. She was so tired. She said thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. I remember you mentioned something that one of the facilities it would let the the staff go home with the tablets.

21:29 Because nursing homes, you know, the the population is so vulnerable. And so what they said was every time a safco bed know they were obviously sent home for weeks that messed up member was distraught because they weren't sure if they giving it to somebody else and those people, you know are very vulnerable. So yeah, every time someone was on the tablet to be honest with these exercises.

22:08 Vaping help me way more connected income when I look at my patients and what they're experiencing and then I look at myself. I don't feel the same as strong Staples sense of self within you know, you'd be something solid part of this practice of time is that it allows you to become and find out point of view, which is important when everything feels

23:00 Chaotic is only way I can describe it as the storm and a song the benefits when they saw how helpful B tablets are it wasn't surprising. I mean, I will call Just One hospital, but I will get a call back and and from there we would end up doing it into 14 of those because he saw the benefit and they wanted this with their sister hospitals. So it was just it just everything click everything fell into place and soon as I called you was ahead of the game. I mean, they thought about this way before anybody out. There were Pioneers in this started way before anybody else had even thought about them and when we the need was there everything was ready to go and that was the beauty about this initiative how

24:00 Find me everything was and how everything just fell into place. It really did it cuz you know, I don't know if you've ever gone surfing but that's what it feels like. It feels like there's this waiting and you're like like bodyboarding cuz I don't wave your like okay, I'm going to start swimming with it. And that's how it felt like the sweet me make sense. It's the only like this. We have something that helps people. We'd you know, we we just got it together and like all the sudden like how I mean, I know nothing about technology. How was I able to put all of this together is only because of what it just felt so into two lines and you know the facts

25:00 Friends, I realize it and to be able to then pass it on and they needed and it's just I remember one of the nurses said this is so much better than one of these. I remember one of the hospital. I don't need it to here in Arizona at the director of the wellness program. You mentioned pizza, but she said that she asked you was asking her Hospital nurses and doctors. What do you need? What can we get you and you know, she was expecting food lunch gift card massage chairs. I'm like that but one thing that she kept hearing from them. Can we have more tablets? That's what they think for and it was really impressive to see that to see and hear how appreciative they were on this program. And that even though we you know

26:00 We could easily given gift cards or something else. They would specifically asked for this which points to the fact that how much how much like there is a regarding this mental health issue of the healthcare workers programs in there. They've been doing some of the research and they're thinking of ways to help their staff. But these are government I got a call from a hospital in California and the admin that called me was she said they have they have put patients that had a huge outbreak they have patience in every corner looks like break room and she said she just kept saying it's Awards.

27:00 What can I do? What can I do? What can I do for myself? And I said do you have like the wellness room are stopping here? Like what they were going through so I can work from anywhere cuz it's hella house. So I was able to tell you don't all come out there. I'll come we donated to so it was like this strange time of traveling during covid-19 of nobody like this math. You're afraid you're going to get something for all this equipment like in all these things. We had ordered them from Amazon.

28:00 And I like your car and they filled up the car with everything and again like no one can go near this hospital cuz it was such a hot. Just wanted to be a place of russet to give no it was everything instead of the doll color. We have colorful things in there instead of the fluorescent lights be put in floor lamps with nonstop music, but because the tablets in there in like had all sorts of like Beverages and like refreshments and one of the nurses she's like, what is this a bonus room for you? Oh, I I now have a place to cry.

29:00 Help them and she's working today because no one else is around here. They are working two shifts back to back because there's a shortage of Staff people call in sick, you know, they get positive or they get exposed and they have to stay home. And so they the other remaining staff has to work double shifts and here they are working back-to-back. They're putting their life in danger to putting the family's life in danger. And then at the same time people, you know don't wear masks and people don't even think there is a virus. I think this is all a conspiracy theory, they feel neglected. They feel abandoned they feel betrayed and they're exhausted. They're just exhausted and

30:00 Emotions are just very strong in the negative sense. So it's really rewarding the whole initiative and what we've been doing has been so rewarding because it's the minimum that we can do for them during this frustrating difficult time. So what is your experience with both the practices, but I know you do you do that. I'm like what has this all done for you with my attitude concentration my daily routine to tell me with my organization. I mean most importantly it's help with my sleep. My body is asleep. I was a major issue but I feel healthier to eat healthier. It's help me to breathe.

31:00 Where you don't forget about the stress be more focused. You know it when you relate your patience when when you truly understand what your patients are staying what they're going through and when you were taking care of you taking care of yourself, you can take care of them. You do a better job of taking care of them. When you watching out for yourself after donating and volunteerism and community service by itself is rewarding enough and you're doing something good and bringing a resource that at 2 to help your fellow healthcare workers. It's so rewarding it's taken away my own stress my own anxiety and my own a lot of that negative energy and the things that can overwhelm you the fears they turned into something positive it makes

32:00 Appreciated what I have its open up my eyes to the value. What I have is help me become more successful in my job and helping others, you know, we're just donating but it's just so rewarding because it's doing more than that. It's helping me as well. Not only all others is helping me. Are you experiencing the same thing? I think yeah it I think I'm getting the most help me to fill centers and a lot more how I feel before. I started a salt more reactive. I was feeling much more lonely and sad but this really kind of help me and then

32:58 Send the purpose. You know, I like you didn't even get to be honest. I didn't even know I could care so much about something with this like something outside of myself, like sending, you know, that's it for others. Yeah, I mean it like it like it lets something in me and it feels not only doesn't feel good. But also it's it's benefiting me in and just balance my life modern medicine has never experienced anything like this thing so much.

33:58 Dni was ID and I need to have healing time for us and for our patients. We've never experienced this ever and Healthcare professionals. You you a compassionate people by nature and you just want to give give give and gifts. But you know, there comes a point where you need to take care of yourself. You need to love yourself and you need to you know, become more aware of replenishing yourself and your energy and you don't focus more on the positive and concentrate on love and peace rather than on the negativity and the downward exhaustion fatigue route that I can take you if you let it go.

34:58 The research of coming out of some of these other countries who are doing so that's a really scary place to be on top of that right now. Usually with things that such as you know in the midst of the crisis people, your adrenaline is pushing you and me forward and you're in fight or flight mode and you're just going through its 1 actually the crisis guys now that all of a sudden now your body is going to take I was in graduate school. I went straight through

35:58 What happened with Ben and when I finish I remember I got so sick. My body was just like breaking down. My my position told me he was like well because your body has been in this crisis mode just pulling you through you didn't realize the strain that will put on it. And then now you do now you're feeling it and so it's like I worry about the aftermath and what does Anna look like number one and then number two houses in our healthcare workers are sick there, you know when they're burnt out they make more mistakes. They they misdiagnose. That's what the research done. That would be a problem on a grand scale.

36:58 The unfortunate thing about this crisis is that at least raise some awareness of something more for them. You bring up a very good point. It's a very solid point that you know, we're just in the beginning of this even after the pandemic is over. We would we're still going to face the long-term effects of all of this, but at the very least, you know that has now become people now know what happened and they are more aware of the need of for this, you know, this type of mental health assistance and I think at the very least we brought a little bit of attention to it by doing the initiative. It's definitely been Incredible Journey II by I feel blessed to be a small part of it.

37:58 Need I say more than just because it it's been so helpful in every aspect of my life. And I love I hope to be able to continue what we started before 4 sometime. I think this is really important. I think this needs to look up burnout burnout talk about research and healthcare workers that gives so much to others a lot of gifts do much to others and focus so much on others that you lose a sense of what you mean, you don't even know how to tap into what you need for about knowing yourself. It fits beautifully in teaching people to become aware of who they are what they need. They can make sure they're helping themselves.

38:58 It's an important I think elements and I'm excited for the work that we're going to do and how how this is going to just hope that we can get it out to as many people as possible. I hope so, too. They say doctors are the worst patients that I need you to do at least try to help themselves and the starts of thinking about replenishing themselves and giving a little love to their own self, and I'm just blessed you to be able to do this always a pleasure. It's always a pleasure. Thank you for everything. You're doing you. Happy New Year, Happy New Year.