National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
OCE Partnerships and COVID-19
OCE staff member Dr. Jamie D. Davis is helping Veterans and VHA employees with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many Veterans receive health care and many Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employees conduct their work, some VHA staff members have been devoting their time, energy, and skills to efforts that ease the effects of COVID-19. Team members from VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) have stepped up to help during this challenging time in several ways. Here are their stories.
Dr. Jamie D. Davis, health systems specialist at OCE, is a psychologist who has a long history of working in disaster mental health, which is “the provision of mental health, substance abuse, and stress management services to disaster survivors and responders,” according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
As the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Dr. Davis said she signed up with the VHA Office of Emergency Management Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS)—that system enables volunteers to provide care when existing response or recovery processes are overwhelmed.
“I wanted to provide direct service in support of individuals who are experiencing the effects of COVID,” said Dr. Davis. “Veterans, absolutely, but also employees.”
At first, she was not called up through DEMPS, Dr. Davis explained. So she called her contact at VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) Mental Health Clinic to ask if they needed the assistance she hoped to provide.
The care Dr. Davis is able to provide as a psychologist, such as coping strategies, mindfulness, self-care techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), has allowed her to help VHA employees through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as well as Veteran patients at VAMHCS. Dr. Davis facilitates a small group and one-on-one sessions that are all virtual due to physical distancing requirements. Currently, she sees a few Veteran patients a week in addition to the employee stress and resilience group she co-facilitates.
“I miss clinical work, so I was excited to help Veterans and employees again,” Dr. Davis explained.
One Veteran, with whom Dr. Davis was working with using CBT-I for insomnia, said that he started developing a ritual at night before sleep and thinks about things differently in a way that has been helpful.
“I’ve made changes that have helped me think about what’s important to me because of working with you,” the Veteran told Dr. Davis.
Dr. Davis said that helping others lets her know that she made the right decision to reach out to VAMHCS. The work during this challenging time has been rewarding for her, too.
“Working with the employees and patients has been great, the video [meeting] experience is wonderful, and they seem to like it, too,” she said.
For more information on OCE’s work on developing partnerships throughout VHA, please visit www.va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Posted July 14, 2020