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Letters from Dr. Jonas
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Dear Colleague,

I’ll start with a note of gratitude to this group—my fellow health care practitioners who have all been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Let me share one story of my friend, Alan Roth, DO, chairman of the department of family medicine at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York. I was beyond thrilled to see him featured in the Time: 2020 Guardians of the Year article.

Many of you know that I started working with Dr. Roth in 2019 to add integrative care to his safety net hospital, which serves a racially and ethnically diverse, medically underserved population of over 1.2 million people in Queens and Eastern Brooklyn. We used the HOPE Note tools to add integrative health care to routine office visits.

The HOPE note is a patient-guided process designed to identify the patient’s values and goals in their life and for healing. We trained Dr. Roth’s team to provide the evidence and support to help his patients meet those goals. Additionally, an interdisciplinary team implemented process changes, added to their electronic medical record system, and created a menu of integrative health services offered within JHMC and in the community.

Because of his strong leadership and passion, he and his devoted team have made substantial progress to improve the care of their patients in family medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry. And this is even despite and for the pandemic, which has had a heavy hand on the people of Queens, one of the hardest-hit areas in the country.

I am honored to work with Dr. Roth and his colleagues as they do the impossible each day, as many of you do as well. Dr. Roth and I will continue this effort in 2021 and work to improve the care of all patients, including those with the so-called “long-hauler” syndrome, individuals with continued problems after recovery from Covid.

Thank you, Dr. Roth and thank YOU, the dedicated health care professionals on the front lines for being true healers. I will continue to share Dr. Roth’s story as it progresses so we can learn together how to heal both ourselves and our patients.

Be well,
Dr. Wayne Jonas

A Reminder:

Even healers need to be healed at times, so below I have included some information on how focusing on the mind, body, and spirit could make a positive impact on your well-being. Some of these may be impossible right now, but others, like breathing, can be done when you just have five seconds.

Excelling at Mind-Body Practices
Mindfulness is one of the most effective and well-researched mind-body skills. More than 2,500 studies in the past 20 years have demonstrated the positive impact of mindfulness on physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological well-being. Yet, most people completely underestimate its power. For example, mindfulness decreases emotional distress and anxiety, improves pain, changes our genes, grows our brain, and increases our well-being and quality of life.

Here are just a few examples of how to practice mindfulness:

Mastering the Physical Needs of Your Body
We all know exercise and eating right keeps our bodies in the best shape. This is an integral part of whole-person health, and it is vital to create what we generally consider "feeling healthy." It creates a baseline of where you feel best and helps you notice earlier when your body is telling you that something is wrong. This might imply your immunity level is low, you're fighting off an illness, or you are in pain.

Food as Fuel
To do this, ensure your body is fueled appropriately following healthy eating patterns, like those based on the Mediterranean diet. With an extensive list of benefits, this diet focuses on eating fish or seafood, beans, and whole grains, and choosing plant-based foods as a foundation of every meal like fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients as well. This eating method is strongly associated with benefits for cognitive function, depression, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and much more. Download the Mediterranean Diet Pocket Guide here.

A Note About Vitamin D and COVID 19
As the pandemic continues, we learn more about who it affects and how to keep ourselves safe. I wanted to be sure you knew my stance on one factor that is often in the press, low vitamin-D levels. There are now large observational studies showing that high serum vitamin-D levels are associated with better outcomes to viruses, including influenza and SARS-COV-2 that causes Covid. Whether supplementing with vitamin-D also improves the outcome is unknown. However, supplementation for patients without calcium or renal problems is safe, as long as it is from a reputable supplier. The basic guidance I give recommends that adults take 100mcg or 4000 IU of vitamin D for each day to achieve 25(OH)D serum levels to at least 30ng/ml and over 60ng/ml, if possible. Learn more in my cosigned letter to The National. Washing hands, proper distancing, and wearing a mask, are important things patients (and you) can do to protect everyone.

Keep Moving
Exercise plays a role in how you feel physically. Cardio like walking, running, and biking improves health, both physically and mentally. Strength-training should be monitored, but it helps with the risk of heart attacks, retaining motor function, and more. Moving meditations like Tai Chi and Qigong works on muscle control, balance and incorporate a mindfulness component. Learn more details about each of these exercise methods.

Spirituality's Impact on Whole-Person
Health For many, spirituality, faith, and religion are central parts of who they are at their core. These can help you find happiness and meaning within rather than from external influences such as money, belongings, work, fame, or food. Focusing on material items can leave a feeling of being empty, lost, and alone. Having a purpose that involves helping others – family, friends, community, etc. – is one of the most consistent factors correlated with a long and happy life.

Watch a clip of my discussion with my daughter Rev. Maeba Jonas on the connection between healing and spirituality.

Once you understand your inner self on a spiritual level, you can bring this sense of peace, wholeness, and healing to others. Connecting with your spirituality or faith can help during stressful times in life. For example, it can help you when becoming a caregiver to a loved one or experiencing a life-changing event.

Take care of your mind, body, and spirit to provide yourself with the opportunity to stay healthy and help others. Use this month as a starting point to connect the dots between mindfulness and the impact on your body, mind, community, and spirit.

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