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Dear Members of the NCWW Community:

With the DC areas slowly extending their phased re-openings, I want to update you on NCWW’s plans. 

The last time I wrote regarding COVID-19 was in early March, when we announced that NCWW had shifted all services to virtual care. We did this several weeks prior to DC’s stay-at-home order, in hopes of protecting our patients and staff. That was a tough decision – but certainly the right one. 

As trying as it has been to navigate the abrupt shutdowns of our communities and institutions and the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, it pains me even further to think of the anguish caused by racial and social injustices and senseless violence, borne especially by my Black friends, family members, colleagues, and mentors. 

While it is difficult to think about anything but the challenges surrounding us, the NCWW team continues to work hard to ensure that we remain available and able to support you. There is a wide range of expectations, hopes, and fears about our plans for the future, with some eager to return to in-person care and others understandably unsettled about what it will mean to emerge from this period of seclusion. 

Having closely monitored the evolving science and public health recommendations regarding COVID-19 and benefited from the counsel of several infectious disease and global health specialists, we feel it prudent to maintain the status quo for the foreseeable future. Thus, until further notice, NCWW will continue our interactive virtual care operations, with all individual appointments, groups and classes conducted by video- and telehealth, until such time that we feel reopening our physical office is in everyone’s best interests.

Our decision included a conscientious risk/benefit assessment, largely driven by two key factors: 

  1. Much of our patient population appears to be at increased risk for more severe COVID-related illness. (There is much confusion and miscommunication about this – please feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss. And, we will have an interactive discussion session on this in the near future). 
  2. Though not without hiccups, virtual care is going extremely well. Since we have long used video- and telehealth, albeit on a smaller scale, our transition to fully virtual care has been somewhat easier than many other healthcare practices. I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients – including many words of thanks for making our services available in a safe way.

We are cautiously optimistic that things are moving in the right direction, and we will continue to update you as the circumstances and timelines evolve. 

In the meantime, I take solace in many small “wins” we have achieved along the way, such as: 

  • Increasing at-a-distance access to our services has been a long-time goal. Virtual care and telehealth have allowed both existing and new patients to utilize our programs more conveniently. As a result, many past clients, who previously found it too burdensome to travel downtown, have re-engaged via telehealth. And it has been exciting to welcome many new patients from across the US and beyond – most of whom otherwise would not have had an opportunity to work with us. 
  • More convenient access to our groups and classes has been an especially notable development. For many patients, the support, camaraderie, and skill-building they gain from these interactive sessions are among the most valuable and enjoyable aspects of our Center. Many who had not previously utilized these resources are now attending and benefiting, from the comfort of their homes. 
  • We created several new support groups and classes, and we are actively working on quite a number of exciting new options and directions. More on this in the coming weeks. 
  • Many of my discussions with patients have included exploring and practicing how we can learn and grow from the ongoing adversities. Building patience and flexible thinking, shifting our mindsets, and finding meaning have gone from platitudes to necessity. I believe we all – including (maybe especially) me – can come out of this stronger, more insightful, and more able-bodied than before. Let’s keep working at it. 

I’m so thankful and proud of our patients, who have provided us helpful input and support while also showing patience with all the change (and the occasional technology challenges!). And I can’t thank our staff enough for working hard to adapt their counseling and care for this new normal. 

None of this is easy, for any of us – neither the weight management, nor the disruptions to work, social life, families, and life in general. I’m coping by trying to come together with those around me, as we keep putting one foot in front of the next – knowing that we’ll all be better for it in the long run.

I’m proud that we’ve been able to make the best of all this, together.