Coping with Covid – Employee Resources

We are committed to providing support for you and your family during this time with COVID-19. We want to acknowledge the stress, fear, anxiety and other complex emotions that come with the work we do at the front lines of caring amidst an unknown, ambiguous and evolving landscape. Thank you all for the unprecedented collaboration and creativity you are showing as we develop ways to best support our patients, community and each other in the face of COVID-19.

Below are several ongoing efforts to provide support to our healthcare teams and their families during these challenging times.

Stress, Mindfulness and Coping Resources

Tompkins County Mental Health Services

Walk-In Crisis Response: TCMHS has a staff of mental health professionals in the building to respond to members of the public who walk-in and need crisis services–nonetheless, we are asking members of the public to stay home and call in for services. We are not directing anyone to come to the building at this time.

Trauma Coping

Website on trauma –

Coping with Grief: Hospicare

Hospicare is continuing to provide individual bereavement support as we have in the past, but we are doing this online for the time being.

In addition, they  are running their Grieving Together Group in an online format on Wednesday, April 1 from 5:30-7:00 p.m.  Registration required, please have clients e-mail me at

They are providing resources on our Facebook page and via the blog on our website in the form of a series called “Grief and Wellness in Uncertain Times”.  New content will go live on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. and will continue to be available afterwards on these pages.  These resources include information on coping during the crisis, guided meditation, relaxing breathing, stretching, therapeutic harp and other offerings.  Please feel free to share this content with clients or others who may benefit.

Ithaca Therapy Group

  • ITG has compiled a list of 39 local therapists who are willing to donate time for pro bono therapy to health care workers in need. Each therapist is willing to offer 3 hours of therapy per client, with the option to negotiate more time if needed. The therapists have a variety of specialities, but all are capable of providing short term supportive counseling, some have experience in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing…  There are also several who have offered to facilitate online groups (mindfulness, stress reduction, body-based breathwork, etc).
  • For the individual sessions, Denise Wittlin -Horvath is planning to serve as the conduit to match clients with providers (there are several others who have volunteered to help if the coordination function becomes too overwhelming).  Interested individuals should email and they will be matched to a provider.
  • If people are specifically interested in group work, they can use the above email.

Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program

The Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program is an 8-week class that teaches mindfulness meditation and stress reduction techniques in a supportive group environment. It is closely based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) curriculum developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979. The MBSR program’s effectiveness has been proven by extensive research, and it is the most widely replicated stress reduction program in the world.

Learn more

Mobile Crisis Team (MCT)

Future Considerations: MCT may offer services in the community if MCT members are provided with protective equipment. TCMHS Administrators will update the community as developments arise.

Stress Management During COVID-19

Our mission at Cayuga Center for Healthy Living is “to positively impact the health and well-being of our community.”  The current challenges related to responding to Coronavirus provide an opportunity for us to share information that might make things a bit easier for you.  We will be sending some emails with ideas for healthy lifestyle and encouragement to care for yourself the best way you can during these uncertain times.

Download the full document

Stress Management Related Links

All of these websites have additional links and resources listed.

Mindfulness Video

Link to video from mental health professionals in regards to stress in the work place. This video was specifically for health care employees during this COVID-19 outbreak. The tips in the video may come across like common sense, but in times of crisis, sometimes common sense can be compromised. I will attach the link. Hopefully you can walk away with some new understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting all staff and how we can better take care of ourselves.

Mindfulness Apps

Spiritual Resources

Some Spiritual resources to help cope with COVID-19:

Spirituality is not only about specifically religious practices; it can be anything that offers meaning, purpose and connection. Spiritual Care seeks to address the existential questions that arise in times like this: Why is this happening to me? What happens next? What have I done to deserve this? Considering these questions is a part of the human experience, and can be an important aspect of coping with threats that arise in our lives, especially in times of crisis.

The Spiritual Care staff at CMC is available to support you in these difficult days. Please do not hesitate to contact us through the switchboard. One of our chaplains is always on call. In addition to a conversation with a chaplain, below are some additional resources that may be helpful.

  1. Check out a local faith community’s web streams, podcasts, and links.  Search the name of a local faith community to see how they are handling online worship and devotional opportunities, and to see what resources they are recommending.
  2. In addition to local faith community resources, here are a few other resources we like:
    1. The Veritas Forum puts the Christian Faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invites participants from all backgrounds to pursue wisdom/truth.
    2. Spiritual Care Tools:
    3. Franciscan Priest Fr. Richard Rohr’s website for daily meditations and contemplation.
    4. Jewish Resources:
    5. Misheberach: Jewish prayer of healing
    6. Buddhist & Meditation Resources:
    7. Muslim Resources:
  3. A few podcasts we like:
    1. national podcast addressing spirituality, belief, and meaning-making
    2. —interviews with a wide a variety of spiritual leaders, from various traditions
  4. Delving deeply into world religious beliefs:
  5. Resource about various world religions’ beliefs and practices. sacred.
    1. Some offerings here include:
      1. Gregorian chants
      2. Buddhist Chant Meditation Practices
      3. Jewish Shabbat services
      4. Christian Chorus Music.
      5. Prayers from various cultures and spiritual practices
  6. Helping others is a great way to get out of your own head/funk:
  7. Engaging with the arts can be a balm on a hard day:
    2. Lincoln Center at Home
    3. Alvin Ailey on YouTube
  8. Music has healing qualities on the body and soul. Play ambient, calm, meditation music or dance out your stress with your favorites.  Many orchestras, singers and bands are offering free online concerts, operas, and music to inspire you. Here’s a piece from our own Ithaca therapeutic harpist Jayne Demakos
  9. Information on supporting children
  10. Seeking laughter and positive storylines can be inspiring and re-stabilizing for all of us. Chaplain’s Favorites: Brittany Runs a Marathon, Late Night, and Kirikou and the Sorceress (available on youtube)
  11. Ithaca Recovery Community is now on-line:
  12. Grief Support from Hospicare is now on-line:
  13. As well as resources about grief in the time Covid-19

Hospicare Facebook Live Series: Grief and Wellness in Uncertain Times

Facebook Event –
Our team shares resources and guided wellness practices for our extended Hospicare family. All programs will be recorded live on Facebook and will be available after on our Facebook page, Hospicare Blog, and our Instagram page.

Grief in Uncertain Times – Laura Ward, Bereavement Counselor, explains how about Grief might be showing up for you right now. She also shares heartfelt ways that you can incorporate wellness habits into your daily routine.
Guided Meditation with Laura Ward
Breathing for Relaxation with Sara Worden

***Wellness in Uncertain Times***
Join us for our bi-weekly 15 minute wellness sessions (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am). Presentations are by our interdisciplinary Hospicare team. Series will continue until we are able to host our support groups again.

Tues March 31, 10am – Therapeutic Harp with Jayne Demakos
Thurs April 2, 10am – Tools for Senior Isolation with Jen Gabriel
Tues April 7, 10am – Spiritual Guidance with Edie Reagan
Thurs April 9, 10am – Gentle Stretching with Sara Worden
Tues April 14, 10am – Therapeutic Harp with Jayne Demakos
Thurs April 16, 10am- End of Life Planning with Kira Lallas

Questions? Please contact Sara Worden, Assistant Director of Community Engagement at

Hospicare uses an interdisciplinary team approach to providing care to patients, families and caregivers in Tompkins and Cortland counties. We provide emotional, medical and spiritual support, and patients have access to care from physicians, nurses, social workers, grief counselors, home health aides and volunteers. It’s never too early to call and ask questions: 607-272-0212.

Practical and Local Tips, General Resources, and Services

Child Care Resources

Ithaca Community Childcare Center has been approved as an emergency child care facility for parents and caregivers who are classified as essential personnel. Please contact Sherri at and provide your child’s age, the days and hours you need care along with employment information verifying essential designation.

Coddington Road Community Center has been approved as an emergency child care facility for parents and caregivers who are classified as essential personnel. Please contact Heather at (or leave a voicemail at 277-1434 ext #3) and provide your child’s age, the days and hours you need care along with employment information verifying essential designation.

Food Resources/Discounts

Restaurants and Delivery Services

  • Ba-Li Catering– Birthday under quarantine? Let us help. If your child has a birthday, we will be happy to make a cake. Decorated or with decorations on the side so you can do it together. Pay what you can, or don’t pay if you can’t. We will be happy to help you celebrate.
  • Collegetown Bagels Community Kitchen – Pay what you can, up to 2 items per person per day. Located at City Center, 301 E. State Street
  • Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches – 30% off for Health Professionals and First Responders
  • DiBella’s Subs – 50% off for Healthcare Workers, First Responders, and Military. Use code: 6962025
  • Luna Street Food – Delivers take-out menu. $10 off coupon for Cayuga Health employees. Use code: ThankYouCHS.
  • Instacart – Delivers groceries from Wegmans, Tops, Aldi, GreenStar, CVS, BJ’s, and Target.
  • Rosie App – Delivers groceries from from P&C Fresh Cortland, P&C Fresh Ithaca ,and Trumansburg Shur-Save
  • Tompkins Home Delivery – Delivers prepared meals and bulk, shelf-stable food. $10 off coupon for Cayuga Health employees. Use code: ThankYouCHS. Following is the delivery zone coverage and schedule:
    • Monday: Ithaca (14817, 14850, 14853, 14687, 14881) and Lansing (13062, 14882)
    • Tuesday: Cortland (13045, 13077, 13101, 13141) and Dryden (13141, 13053, 13062, 13068, 13102, 13784)
    • Wednesday: Groton (13073) and Moravia (13092, 13118)
    • Thursday: Ithaca (14817, 14850, 14853, 14687, 14881) and Trumansburg (14854, 14886)
    • Friday: Marathon (13803, 13862)

Community Resources

Hotels Resources/Discounts

Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Ithaca has offered a discounted room rate to health care workers, here locally. Here is the information they shared with us:

  • Go to website and select their date of stay, for a day rate just book as if you are staying overnight, it will automatically give them the day rate.  Then they select special rates and put in the code under Group Code.
  • Code for overnight rate of $69 is CAYUGA
  • Code for day rate of $39 is CAYUG1

Finger Lakes Cabins For doctors or nurses to stay if needed there are two available. While they are about 25 minutes from the hospital, they are completely isolated and private.

  • Each cabin has a private hot tub. Taste of Wine Country Cafe delivers breakfast – she’s still operating, so we can arrange to have meals delivered as well (though each cabin has a fully working kitchen and bathroom – these are not rustic cabins!).
  • Please contact Sara for rates and availability.

Homewood Suites is offering discounted rates for Cayuga Health employees. They offer day rates, overnight rates, as well as extended stays in their suites.

  • $79/night – ($59/day use)
  • Grocery shopping service that will pick up food and deliver it to the room (full size refrigerators and a two cooktop stove in the room).
  • Annette Edwards – 607-342-9402

Marriott – $99/night
Best Western – $49/night

  • Contact Jim McMann
    Director of Sales
    Best Western University Inn
    1020 Ellis Hollow Road
    Ithaca, NY  14850

Hotel Ithaca – $69/night
Hampton Inn – $79/night (through the end of May)
The Argos Inn – $39/overnight rate

  • Contact Avi Smith, owner, at 415-710-8707

Cultivating Connections

“Social Distancing” is a phrase that until recently, many of us had never heard, and seemingly overnight has become a part of everyday conversation.  In attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19 we are being asked to practice social distancing, work remotely, stay in our homes.  Schools, daycares, places of worship, gyms, movie theaters, restaurants, and bars are closing.  Yet, it’s a time when we need more than ever to support each other.  Social connection is important for maintaining a sense of wellbeing and happiness, as well as coping with stress.  While social distancing is a necessary precaution to prevent the transmission of Covid-19, it is important to recognize that it refers to physical contact.  With a little creativity it is possible to cultivate meaningful social connection while practicing social distancing.

View the full document

Tips for healthcare workers returning home

  • By far the most important habit is frequent hand washing.  Wash your hands before leaving work and after arriving home.  The highest risk part that we bring home from work or the community is dirty hands.
  • Encourage everyone you live with to wash their hands frequently, kids included.  Before eating, after using the rest room, after returning from an area outside of the home, after coughing or sneezing.  Soap and water for 20 seconds or alcohol hand sanitizer both work well.
  • If you provide direct patient care, change out of work shoes before leaving work or before entering your home.
  • If you wear hospital provided scrubs at work, change back into street clothes and leave used scrubs at the hospital for laundering.
  • If you provide direct patient care and wear home the clothes you worked in, change out of them on arrival home.  This does not have to be exterior to the home.
  • If you feel healthy and have not had contact with someone with COVID without personal protective equipment on, it is safe to have normal contact with your loved ones.

Optional Actions:

  • Discontinue wearing accessories such as rings, watches, necklaces, dangly earrings.
  • Protect Phones by placing in a snack bag size ziplock bag before starting a shift. Remove and discard and disinfect phone after work and at night to have a clean phone in your home. Touchscreen and microphone tend to work fine through the bag.

CDC page specifically about cleaning your home

Discussing Covid-19 with children

Coronavirus and COVID-19 have caused many changes in daily life. Children may be confused, worried, or scared. Parents and caregivers often don’t know what to say or how much to tell their children.

Learn more from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Cayuga Medical Center – The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL service for employees and eligible family members. The EAP provides priority access to our clinical professionals for confidential assessment, short term counseling and/or referral to address personal, family and/or workplace challenges you may be experiencing.

Cayuga Medical Associates – You and your eligible family members can trust the Balance Works service for assistance with everyday work and family issues, as well as more challenging personal concerns.

Healthy Lifestyle Resources

Tips for Staying Healthy at Home

Movement is an important coping mechanism to use in times of uncertainty. It can help keep anxiety at bay, boost your immune system, and maintain a sense of normalcy and well-being!

Download the full document

Planning Nutritious Meals at Home

While it is important to limit trips to the store, you don’t have to forgo eating well. There’s no need to clean out your local grocer, but shopping for the week ahead and keeping some extra shelf-stable foods on hand will help minimize outings. With a little bit of planning you can enjoy healthy meals at home even if fresh ingredients are limited.

Download the full document

5 Steps for Snacking Mindfully at Home

Schedule meal & snack breaks

Your days and nights might look a little different right now. Keeping some sort of a routine can help us find our daily rhythm. Set a time for the basics, like a wake-up time, mealtimes, work and play times, and a bedtime. Setting aside time for breaks, which could include a snack, is a good way to create work/life balance if you are now working from home.


Notice how you are feeling in the moment. It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, or maybe even a little stir-crazy! Press pause and ask yourself if food will help to nourish you at this time. If you’re feeling hungry, take note of your hunger level using the hunger/satiety scale (1 = extremely hungry, 10 = extremely full).

Choose Thoughtfully

We can’t control who practices social distancing or what is left of the canned goods at the grocery store, but we can control what we choose to snack on in the moment. We have that choice! Choose thoughtfully, and ask yourself, will this snack take the edge off my hunger?

Slow Down

Choose a snack that is tasty and satisfying, and then take a little time to then enjoy that snack. Sit down, set aside distractions, chew slowly, and savor it.

Practice Kindness and Patience

If you feel guilty for a food choice you made, it does not mean it was a bad choice. Be kind and patient with yourself during these challenging times. Cooking balanced meals or choosing and enjoying tasty snacks is a form of self-care!

A note about emotional eating…

Emotional eating gets a bad rep. Eating for reasons other than hunger is typically viewed as undesirable, something to be avoided at all costs. Yet, as humans, we are emotional beings! Food can be so much more than “gas in the tank.” Enjoying a decadent meal with family to celebrate a special occasion, curling up with hot chocolate on a cold night, or diving in to your favorite comfort food when you are particularly stressed in order to invite a little joy into your life that day can all be part of a healthy eating pattern. Pattern, though, is the key word.

We are facing uniquely challenging times. Yet, I think we can all agree that the unique part of the current situation is not alone the fact that it is challenging. Every day may be filled with a new trial. Sometimes that trial is a pandemic; other times, it is a more subtle stressor. We may not be able to control, or even easily identify, those things, but what we do have control over is how we respond.

Perhaps heading for the kitchen is your common response. It may be for a lot of us, especially in these times of flipped schedules, and increased time spent the home. Sometimes, food can fill our emotional need in that moment. Most of the time, it’s not quite enough. Where emotional eating can become harmful to our health – both physical and emotional health – is when it is our only tool in the toolbox. What is our pattern of response? Open up your toolbox right now and take stock. In what ways can you cope with some of these familiar struggles? Anxious? Call a friend. Angry? Write about it. Tired? Take a mental break from your current activity. Low energy? Take a little walk. Sad? Cry, it’s OK! Bored? Start a new project. Hungry? Follow the steps above to mindfully enjoy a snack.  Emotions are meant to be experienced, not shoved back in with food. Give yourself permission to feel, and then respond, thoughtfully. If you are having trouble figuring out what it is your body may be needing, check out the attached infographic on physical vs emotional hunger.

When we practice implementing a non-diet approach, mindful eating techniques (like the ones listed above) or intuitive eating principles (more resources below), can help us tune into our bodies’ true needs and gain control over our eating habits.

As the saying goes, this too shall pass. And when it does, what will we have learned? What coping skills will we have developed? Take a look down below for additional resources on how to practice these

Intuitive Eating:

Mindfulness and Mindful Eating:

The Importance of Sleep for a Healthy Life

What happens while we are asleep?  Research continues to find more and more important tasks vital to our overall health that our brains and bodies carry out while we sleep.  In addition to the risks of being drowsy and the challenge of general fatigue, inadequate sleep increases our susceptibility to viral infections, risk for several chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, and incidence of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.  Both the quantity and quality of sleep matters, and the message today includes tips you can follow to try and maximize both.  If poor sleep continues after making efforts to improve your sleep, discuss with your primary care provider, as referral to a sleep specialist may be needed to check for a sleep disorder.

Download the full document

Exercise - Island Health and Fitness

Island Health & Fitness is offering free Les Mills at home workouts for all CHS employees regardless of  whether they were a member!

Exercise - Free trial fitness apps and programs

*Keep in mind, most will charge you automatically if you don’t cancel your subscription before the free trial has ended

  • Down Dog App – Offering free yoga, HIIT, and barre classes until April 1, 2020
  • Obe Fitness – Live online fitness classes with a free 30 day trial (use code ATHOME)
  • Beachbody – Online classes with a free 14 day trial
  • Peloton – Offering new subscribers a free 90 day trial (you do not need to have the Peloton bike or treadmill to participate in these workouts)
  • Tone It Up app – Free for new users for the next 30 days
  • CorePower Yoga – Starting March 16th, CorePower will be taking its in-studio experience online, free of charge, with options for beginners all the way to a mix of strength training moves and yoga sequences

If you are not interested in subscription services, YouTube has many great (free!) exercise video options. Some good channels include Fitness Blender, The Body Coach, HASfit, Yoga with Adriene, and Blogilates.

Exercise - YMCA

YMCA of Ithaca will allow CMC staff to use the trails of the Outdoor Education Center as a place  for hospital staff to get away for a walk during a break time

Quick and Easy Core Stretching

The following videos demonstrates a brief look at some core stretches to keep us all flexible and moving well. They can be done several times a day during breaks:

Repeated sit to stand from a firm chair. Begin seated on edge of seat. Reach arms forward. Inhale to prepare. Stand up as you exhale.  Reaching arms forward as you stand up will help prevent you from slouching.  Exhaling as you stand up will help you engage your core musculature and avoid breath-holding. Inhale and sit back down. Repeat 10 times in a row or until you feel signs of fatigue in your legs. Then rest for 45 seconds. Repeat one more set of the same number of repetitions.

Benefits: Increases blood flow. Strengthens lower body and core.

Standing trunk extensions. Stand up. Brace your core by drawing in your abdominal muscles as you exhale. Your back should not move as you do this. Keep your abdominals drawn in and breathe normally as you then lean backwards and then come back to standing. Move within a painfree range. Repeat 5-10 times.

Benefits: Helps maintain spinal and hip flexibility. Important to do if you’ve been sitting for 30 minutes or longer.

Shoulder blade squeezes. Stand up. Brace your core by drawing in your abdominal muscles as you exhale. Your back should not move as you do this. Keep your abdominals drawn in and breathe normally as you pull your shoulder blades together towards your spine. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then release. Your elbows should not move very far beyond your body. The focus is on moving the shoulder blades.

Benefits: Helps reduce strain on the upper back and neck muscles after prolonged sitting.

Standing thoracic rotations.  Stand up. Brace your core by drawing in your abdominal muscles as you exhale. Your back should not move as you do this. Keep your abdominals drawn in and breathe normally as you bring your arms up and out to shoulder height with straight elbows. Now turn your chest all the way to the right and then all the way to the left within a painfree range. Try to keep your pelvis facing forward as your chest rotates.

Benefits: Improves flexibility of the midback.

Disclaimer: Discontinue these exercises if you experience pain that does not resolve after 5-10 repetition or if you are unsteady and at risk for falling.

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