Virtual Formats Allows Us to Catch Up with Old Friends
Depending upon the session, I would estimate that at Mayo Florida, about 1/3 of our HABIT participants do not live in our local area. Before the pandemic, this meant many individuals travelled to Jacksonville to attend the 2 week HABIT Program. While we have provided monthly HABIT Alumni Support Groups for years (as does Arizona and coming soon to La Crosse), these monthly follow-ups were mostly attended by locals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we offer HABIT, and venture into virtual offerings to keep us and our patients safe. The Arizona team took the lead on offering HABIT virtually this summer, and wrote a nice piece about the experience on this blog. Across Mayo, we now have a few virtual HABIT sessions under our belts. Some things are easier when doing HABIT virtually, and others are more of a challenge, but overall it has been a success.
In addition to the HABIT Program itself, we have now completed 3 virtual monthly HABIT Alumni Support Groups at Mayo Florida, and we have 2 more planned for 2020. While we definitely miss seeing alumni we've worked with for years in person, this experience has allowed us to also reconnect with some that distance kept us from seeing. This has been a real joy for me and for the group members to reconnect with each other as well.
Perhaps there is nothing like a crisis to force one to innovate, and I believe HABIT has gotten stronger as we've looked into various delivery methods. While I do hope that we can offer in-person sessions again before too long (I really miss the interaction!), even when we do, I do not think virtual offerings will go away. I hope to keep it as an option for those who live far away, or anyone with limited mobility or transportation options who may more readily access us from home.
What have you thought of virtual meetings like Zoom? Share your experiences.