When it comes to staying safe during the new coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Chandace Jeep, owner of Animas Valley Audiology Associates, prefers the term “physical distancing” over the commonly used “social distancing,” especially with her older patients.
As a way to stay connected, Jeep came up with the idea to have her younger patients create artwork that would be sent to her older patients, who may be feeling a little lonely and isolated because of the stay-at-home order declared last week by Gov. Jared Polis as a way to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Right now, while people are trying to do this social distancing – I don’t love that term, I really think it needs to be ‘physical distancing’ – we don’t want them to be socially isolated,” she said. “And for our hearing-loss population, especially our older population, there’s a lot of neurobiology behind loneliness and access to interaction, whether it’s through hearing or just not seeing people, and so this is one way that we’re trying to combat that is to let them know we still love them and that they’re not alone even though they might be at home alone.”
Little did she know, when she shared her idea with the doctors at Pediatric Partners of the Southwest and on social media, it would take off. And now with her art project growing, Jeep is looking for kiddos to get creative and send in their art to be shared.
“When I posted it, it just started getting shared like crazy, like wildfire, yesterday (Tuesday) within our community. I love the power of technology,” she said. “We have people from all over the country who have emailed us or Facebook messaged us and said, ‘Hey, my kids are going to go ahead and create something, too, and send it to you guys.’ So it’s not just within our little community here, it’s really connecting people all over.”
When it comes to sharing the artwork, Jeep said it’s all about safety first; the office follows recommendations by the Attorney General’s Office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure sending the artwork through the mail is safe. She said her staff members wear gloves when opening the letters, which are then aired out for 24 hours before being sent to patients.
Jeep said she thinks the project is catching on the way it is because even though people are staying home, we want to connect with each other.
“I think it’s striking a chord with people because we’re all in this together. And even though we’re apart, right now, we all want connection; we are all yearning for connection with each other,” Jeep said. “And this is a great way to be able to connect patients with our community, but also I love the idea of connecting a younger generation to an older generation, and the real reason why I decided to do it is my passion for being able to love on our patients and make sure that our older patients are not forgotten and that they are not lonely during this time frame of being in the stay-at-home order and just making sure that we’re taking care of our community.