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University of Utah College of Nursing Provides Hope and Comfort in COVID-19 Support Groups

In an unprecedented time in U.S. history, families are dealing with the loss of a family member or friend to COVID-19. And many who survive are leaving the hospital with health complications or emotional struggles. As doctors, scientists, and researchers study the long-term consequences of COVID-19, people are learning to cope with grief and recovery. Concern for these individuals has urged health care professionals to collaborate and find a way to help.

The University of Utah College of Nursing is providing hope and comfort to the public through COVID-19 support groups. "There have been over 3,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths from COVID-19 in Utah, which is a lot of grief," says Katherine Supiano, PhD, director of the college's Caring Connections program. "They don't know what to do with this experience of being post-COVID because nobody knows what normal is."

Caring Connections, a non-profit community service program, is the only bereavement care service housed in a nursing college in the United States. Caring Connections offers a variety of grief support groups year-round to help individuals cope with loss.

Two different groups will be offered to individuals in the community:

COVID-19 Grief Support Group

This group will be focused on COVID-19-related grief for those who have lost a family member or friend to coronavirus as well as all who are grieving deaths that were disrupted due to the virus. Disrupted grief experiences include family unable to be present at the time of death or funeral gathering. Individuals in this support group will meet virtually for eight weeks.

COVID-19 Recovery Support Group

This group will be focused on support for individuals who have had COVID-19 and are dealing with emotional struggles related to their illness and any lasting symptoms. People who are dealing with difficulties following their COVID-19 illness can find support in this group from others with similar experiences. Individuals in this support group will meet virtually for 12 weeks.

Groups are facilitated by clinicians (social workers, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and chaplains) who give their time to help others pro-bono. Many clinicians are well-connected and already doing this type of work in their communities. Other group leaders are working on the frontlines of COVID-19 and are knowledgeable about the disease and recovery process.

COVID-19 support groups are free for participants due to generous funding from the State of Utah Department of Human Services. Funding has allowed Caring Connections the opportunity to also support disproportionally affected communities that have been affected by coronavirus. "We have the opportunity at the College of Nursing to be on the forefront of not just what's coming around the corner, but what's happening now," Supiano says.

Group registration is required. Please call 801-585-9522 for more information and to register.