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Money woes and distance: Patient stressors during the COVID-19 era

As of this writing, the novel 2019 coronavirus has infected over 4.6 million Americans and killed over 155,000. Unemployment is at its highest level since the Great Depression, and experts predict mass evictions as financial aid measures run out.

People have been isolated for months from their loved ones or forced to shelter in place in unhealthy living situations. Scientists and governments around the world are sounding dire warnings about climate change even as countries brace for hurricane season. Massive social unrest and protests have forced the United States and other nations to confront ugly realities involving race, law enforcement, and corruption.

And don’t forget, this is the year many of us learned what a murder hornet was.

These and many other factors are taking a toll on patients’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being—even those not battling COVID-19.

Many of these topics might not seem like they fall under the purview of healthcare. Nor is it always clear what can be done to help people dealing with things like unemployment or rent insecurity. But if providers are to keep providing quality care during the pandemic, say experts, they must have open and honest conversations with their patients about what is causing them stress and what providers can do to help.

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