55 Word Stories

Sharing our experiences in health care, especially during intense, emotional, or stressful times increases our connectedness and well-being.

Read stories from other members of our UW Medicine community on how COVID-19 has impacted them, and submit one of your own.

December 4th Town Hall

Please join us for the next UW Medicine Town Hall at 3pm by Zoom: https://uw-phi.zoom.us/j/887116941.

By phone: 1-253-215-8782 or 1-669-900-6833 or 1-346-248-7799
Webinar ID: 887 116 941

You may submit your questions for the next town hall in advance here.


We are committed to providing support for you and your family during this time with COVID-19. We want to acknowledge the stress, fear, anxiety and other complex emotions that come with the work we do at the front lines of caring amidst an unknown, ambiguous and evolving landscape. Thank you all for the unprecedented collaboration and creativity you are showing as we develop ways to best support our patients, community and each other in the face of COVID-19.

Below are several ongoing efforts to provide support to our healthcare teams and their families during these challenging times. You may also find daily updates on the UW Medicine Huddle website. The Department of Family Medicine has resources to support patients, healthcare workers, our communities, and ourselves. For updates specific to residents and fellows, please visit the GME website.



School and Child Care

As we enter the fall season, many families are in need of resources and assistance in balancing work, child care, and remote learning. We are creating and compiling those for you here and will continue to update this page as additional resources are established.

Child Care

For the most up-to-date child care information, join the parenting@uw.edu listserv.

Join the upcoming support and strategies workshop series for UW students and staff who are parents/ guardians/ caregivers on December 3rd from 3-4pm by Zoom. To sign up and receive the Zoom link, email Amy at amyc26@uw.edu and include whether you are a UW student or staff member.

UW HR has a growing collection of child care options including updated backup care info, plus a page with details on using time off for various COVID-related scenarios. The Huddle also has several resources for child and in-home care.

UW Child Care Connections (UWC3) is a service that connects UW students willing to provide child care or learning support to UW employees and graduate students who need caregiving support.

The Komae app supports those seeking cooperative care opportunities across our UW community. Komae enables parents to identify and vet families with similar parenting styles and COVID-19 hygiene practices to build their pod for shared child care and education.

View this step-by-step guide to forming pandemic pods for families looking to share child care.

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) registration is now open for full day-care for elementary-age kids and support for students’ virtual learning at several locations.

Seattle Preschool Program is accepting new participants for in-person, remote, or hybrid programming for three- and four-year-olds. Tuition is calculated on a sliding scale and will be free this year for remote learning participants.

UW Medicine employees who need child care should call the Child Care Aware COVID Referral Center. The call center can serve callers Monday through Friday between 8:30-4:30 and in their home language. The Referral Center will connect families directly to vacant child care slots in the community, including those available only to UW employees. Here’s how the process works: 

  • Call 1-800-446-1114
  • Press “1” to request child care
  • Press “1” to indicate you are a healthcare worker/first responder
  • Tell the operator you are a UW Medicine employee.

Support for Children with Special Needs and Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

Arc of King County has a Coronavirus resource page in addition to a resource list. There is also a presentation with ten tips to advocate for your child’s special education.

Informing Families has a COVID page with several helpful links.

PAVE provides information on knowing your rights and information related to IEPs.

Icahn at Mount Sinai has resources for teaching social skills for children with autism during social distancing.

AFIRM is a national collaboration with information on supporting individuals with autism during uncertain times.

Implications of COVID-19: Supporting Families in a Pandemic webinar on October 19th, 2020 from UW LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) provides many helpful tips. UW LEND also has a list of COVID-19 resources to support families of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Northwest Justice Project has a special education legal clinic to provide advice about your child’s rights to an education.

Financial Supports

The City of Seattle’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) vouchers pay between 25-75 percent of child care costs for income-eligible families with children under 13 years old. Families can begin the CCAP registration process here.

Pierce County has a child care financial assistance program; read the frequently asked questions here.

The Whole U’s Nanny Parent Connection offers a 15% discount for Learning Guide membership to a nanny search service.

Snoqualmie Tribe Child Care and Development Fund:  This program is open to all Native American families that meet eligibility criteria and provides financial support for child care and early learning services.


Several community resources are available to help find tutors and educational support for school-aged children:

King County Library System members have unlimited, free access to Tutor.com. Each session is 20-30 minutes long and is designed to help learners with 1-2 questions. Learn about Tutor.com through King County Libraries.

Pierce County and Sno-Isle Librariesmembers have access to HelpNow, a live, online professional tutoring service. Learn more on the Pierce County Library System and Sno-Isle Libraries websites. HelpNow offers tutoring and homework help in Spanish for any subject it supports in English.

School aged programs in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties: The YMCAS of Greater Seattle, Pierce County and Snohomish County are offering full-day care options designed to help school-aged students stay focused and on-task while engaging in remote learning, without missing out on social enrichment, peer interaction, and physical activity.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is providing seven Teen Resource Hubs to support up to 200 students daily. The program begins September 8th and runs Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm. Lunch will be provided daily. Learn more and register for the free program here.



How we recover is as important as how we work and play!  Here are some tips for improving your sleep:

  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature (cooler temperatures can help promote better, deeper sleep).
  • Try “relaxing breathing,” or 4-7-8 count breathing. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and release over 8 seconds. Do this until you fall asleep.
  • Try any of the relaxing apps – Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer.
  • Consider talking to your doctor about whether medications may benefit you to address the underlying cause of your sleep disruption. Stress can cause chemical imbalances in the brain and medications can help regulate that.

For more sleep recommendations, check out this handout.

Coping with Uncertainty and Anxiety

Our Assistant Dean for Well-Being, Anne Browning, PhD, presented “Well-Being and Resilience During COVID-19” in the Next Generation Medicine Lecture Series, providing ways we can counter grieving the loss of normalcy and anxiety and develop coping skills for dealing with uncertainty.

Kevin Alschuler, PhD (Rehabilitation Medicine and Neurology) presented “Coping with uncertainty and leveraging resilience during COVID-19” on the challenge of COVID-19, of uncertainty, and how to build and use resilience to cope in the best ways possible. Watch the recording.

Psychologist, New York Times columnist, and best-selling author Dr. Lisa Damour provides specific dos and don’ts of coping with stress and anxiety in this helpful handout. Harvard Business Review explains why That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.

Difficult Conversations During Unrest

We have gathered several resources from UW CARELINK that may be helpful for you, your colleagues, and your family during this time of widespread outrage regarding acts of racial violence.

Mental Health First Aid – Helping Someone who is Suffering
Speaking to children about diversity and discrimination
Workplace Diversity – Standing Together
Understanding the Trauma of Racism
How Managers Can Help Employees Deal with Traumatic Events

Unemployment Fraud

If you receive a letter from the Employment Security Department about an unemployment claim that you didn’t make, report it by calling 800-246-9763 or filling out their online form.

UWHR also has more information about what to do if this happens to you

Additional resources include information on WA Governor Inslee’s one week waiver, the AG’s office on identity theft, and the Secure Access Washington site where you can check if someone has filed a fraudulent unemployment claim using your personal information.

Supporting Health and Well-Being

This PTSD Coach Online provides specific tools for specific problems you may want help with. If you are experiencing grief, you may find resources to cope here.

The UW Center for Child & Family Well-Being has updated its fall events and classes and maintains an online resource library of resources to support you and your family.

This Behavioral Health Toolbox for Families: Supporting Children and Teens During the COVID-19 Pandemic provides tips on how to navigate some of the emotional responses that families may experience during this pandemic.

We know this is a challenging time for the families of our healthcare workers. You may listen to and watch recent peer support sessions for partners and spouses of healthcare workers here and here.

The National Academy of Medicine has curated a large bank of resources to support the health and well-being of clinicians during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This article shares important information on how nurses can protect themselves from the effects of secondary trauma and compassion fatigue as they work to save others.

FACE COVID: How to respond effectively to the corona crisis by Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap. Practice these skills on better managing your energy and attention to maximize your resilience and performance. Use this brochure to build your responder personal resilience plan.

Free smartphone apps that promote mental well-being: 

  • VA COVID Coach
  • Mindfulness Coach
  • Virtual HopeBox
  • CBT-I Coach
  • My3

Resilience Recovery Skills

Drs. Kristen Lindgren & Michele Bedard-Gilligan present, “Fostering Resilience During Times of Chronic Stress: Strengthening Coping and Protecting the Most Vulnerable” on October 7, 2020. In this video you will learn effective strategies for coping adaptively, including ways to tolerate and manage anxiety, access and maximize supports, and process feelings and thoughts in a helpful way. The presenters also discuss how you can use these strategies to support and bolster the people around you.

Drs. Kristen Lindgren & Michele Bedard-Gilligan, with their colleague Dr. Emily Dworkin, teach about Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is an evidence-informed prevention strategy aimed at reducing and increasing resilience during and following mass disasters, including natural disasters and pandemics. PFA provides a flexible framework for specialty and non-specialty providers to support affected individuals and help them mobilize their natural, adaptive coping strategies. You may review the PFA for leaders and managers slides and PFA for Peer to Peer slides. Here are strategies for coping, grounding, and core skills for managersWatch the April 22nd recording with password 2j&33sHt and the April 28th recording.

Psychiatric Support

During this time of increased stress and anxiety, the UW Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is available to provide UW Medicine staff and faculty with free, informal, telephone or video-based conversations with one of our more than 50 volunteer clinician colleagues.

The team is available Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm to facilitate scheduling but conversations can occur outside these hours. Requests for support can be made online via the COVID Support Request Survey or by leaving a confidential voice mail message at 206.221.2768.

Community Mental Health Resources

Several mental health professionals have expressed an interest in working with healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. You can find the list of Seattle area mental health resources and therapists who are available to work with new clients, initially via telehealth.

This Google doc was not created by or behalf of UW Medicine and is being offered as a personal resource tool only; it is not intended to supplement or replace any employment benefits provided by UW Medicine.  This is not intended to be a recommendation, referral, or endorsement of any providers or services included in this resource.  UW Medicine disclaims any liability that may arise of out use of the resource, any relationship entered into with the listed providers, or for any care that is provided thereof.  You can contact these providers directly for additional information.  There are external resources available to assist in selecting a mental health provider that may be helpful to you, such as ensuring the provider has a license in our state WA Department of Health Credential Search and this site has Tips for contacting a community provider. Any questions about this Google doc should be directed to Andrew Bryant: andrew@northseattletherapy.com.  For information or questions on mental health benefits available to you as a UW employee, go to the UW Human Resources benefits page where there is also a link to the Employee Assistance Program, CareLink.


Helpful Resources

We have provided additional resources for you, your loved ones, and your colleagues below.

TOWN HALLS // virtual gatherings to receive updates from leadership and ask questions

We want to provide access for folks on the front lines to share their concerns and needs regarding their health and well-being with our leadership.  Please check your local medical center or practice location communications for updates in local town halls throughout the week.

Future UW Medicine town halls will take place at 3pm on November 20th, December 4th, 11th, and 18th by Zoom webinar: https://uw-phi.zoom.us/j/887116941 or by phone: 1-253-215-8782 or 1-669-900-6833 or 1-346-248-7799 and Webinar ID: 887 116 941

Please submit your questions in advance so we can address frequently voiced questions and concerns.

Recordings of past town halls are listed below: 

11/20 town hall and transcript
11/13 town hall and transcript
10/30 town hall and transcript
10/16 town hall and transcript
10/2 town hall and transcript
9/18 town hall and transcript
9/4 town hall and transcript
8/21 town hall
8/7 town hall
7/24 town hall
7/10 town hall
6/26 town hall
No town hall on 6/19
No town hall on 6/12
6/5 town hall
No town hall on 5/29
5/22 town hall
5/15 town hall
5/8 town hall
4/24 town hall
4/17 town hall
4/10 town hall
4/3 town hall
3/27 town hall
3/20 town hall
3/13 town hall


24/7 SUPPORT // contacts for emergent needs and staff support

For emergent mental health concerns for a colleague, encourage the employee or escort to the Emergency Department (per regular practice).

For counseling or critical incident response, use the CareLink Call Line 24/7 @ 866-598-3978.

Managers/Supervisors can page the Social Work Administrator on call through the paging operator for any emergent needs and links to resources, or page Marie Cockerham 206-405-9249 for urgent staff support need consult/mobilization of resources.

UW Medical Center, Montlake only: Contact Spiritual Care On-Call 24/7 @ 206-559-6764 (text) 206-598-9174 (voicemail)  or through the paging operator.

UW CARELINK // immediate help for providers and family members, including free counseling

For providers and family members who would like immediate help, please contact our Faculty and Staff Assistance Program CareLink which provides consultation and triage support.

Call 866-598-3978 to get FREE counseling or set up a Critical Incident Counselor for your area (available within 24 hours).

  1. When you call ask CareLink to set up in person or over phone counseling at the date/time that works for you
  2. If a person gives a verbal ok to have CareLink call them, contact Marie Cockerham marie678@uw.edu to initiate


UW CareLink parenting resources

Visit the UW CareLink website for details about how to access these confidential services that are free to UW employees and their family members, or register today for these upcoming webinars to learn ways that UW CareLink can support you.

Child care and tutoring locator services

UW CareLink specialists will listen to your family’s needs and provide a list of options for child care that aligns with your preferences. They will consult on needs for children of all ages, and can even help locate care while your family is traveling to visit relatives or for vacation.

Confidential Counseling

You, and each of your your family members, are eligible for five free in-person counseling sessions.

Financial guidance
Most families had not budgeted for the extra cost of school-day child care, or for tutoring or academic supports that children may need during remote instruction. UW CareLink can help you review your family’s budget and identify changes that may help with the financial impacts of COVID-19.

Legal advice

If you are hiring a caregiver during the pandemic you may have questions about your liability related to taxes or personal safety. A UW CareLink legal consultation can help.

UW CareLink webinars

UW CareLink webinars address timely topics and are advertised through the UW Insider and this listserv. For example, UW CareLink has recently featured a back to school resource guides and a webinar about coping with pandemic anxiety as kids return to school.

VA EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE // resources and contacts for VAPS employees

Occupational Health

  • Monday – Friday from 08:00am – 3:30pm phone 206-277-4444
  • Any calls outside of the hours of operation list above need to go to the COVID after hours number:  206-714-6983
  • Need to talk?  Want someone who listens? VA Puget Sound has confidential resources you can utilize during these stressful times:
    • Chaplain Service: 206-764-2023
    • Critical Incident Response Team (Pager): 206-416-6573
    • Employee Assistance Program (24/7): 1-800-869-0276; www.espyr.com, Password: VAPSHCS
    • Mindfulness practice through Zoom meetings. Don’t have the invite in your calendar? Contact your supervisor to get more information.
    • Employee Whole Health Wellness Links


Covid-19 Peer Support Team at Occupation Health Services:
Available 24/7, from work or home! Brief counseling and support for staff members coping with stress related to COVID-19 issues, such as:

  • Coping with quarantine
  • Distress related to increased isolation
  • Managing stressors related to providing care to COVID-19 positive patients
  • Skills for improving sleep
  • Dealing with grief or anxiety reactions related to COVID-19
  • How to deal with anxiety about family members’ health
  • Relaxation skills

To schedule an appointment, please email PUGMHSUPPORTCOVID@va.gov

You will get a response by the next business day. For urgent needs and for triage, please page a staff member 24 hours/day, 7 days a week.

M-F 830a-430p: pager number 253-280-3002; After Hours: 206-797-0627


Community resources:

  • Social Work Services Share Point has information on Community Resources. These resources are not necessarily limited to Veterans: Social Work Service SharePoint

CHILD + ELDER CARE // details and organizations to secure backup care for your family

If you’re interested in accessing child care from a UW student or by friends or family of UW employees, complete this request form.

Human Resources has created a webpage with several child care supports. They also have a page with adult and elder care resources.

Seattle school district is opening childcare, with a focus on healthcare workers. A community-created list of Washington State COVID-19 response resources for childcare and many other needs can be found here.

Bright Horizons Backup Care

  • Employees must pre-register before requesting care for their child.
  • Offers care both in-center and in-home.  In-home care can serve children who are sick and is available 24-7.
  • In-center care costs $20 per child and $35 per family. In-home care costs $32 per 24 hours, then $8 per additional hour.
  • Employees receive 5 uses per year from Bright Horizons. This may be stacked with KinderCare for 15 total backup annual uses.
  • Find their COVID-19 protocol here.

KinderCare Backup Care

  • Employees must pre-register before requesting care for their child.
  • Offers in-center care only. In-center care costs $20 per child per day.
  • Employees receive 10 uses per year through KinderCare. This may be stacked with Bright Horizons for 15 total backup annual uses.

Short Term Elder Care

  • The Back-Up Advantage Program provides backup care for your adult relative when regular arrangements fall through unexpectedly. The caregiver comes to your home.

UW CareLink is available 24/7 and provides a child care referral service that provides employees with a list of caregivers.

The Whole U Discount Partners includes On Call Nanny Service and Annie’s Nannies.

Two publicly available services that coordinate caregiving are care.com and sittercity.com. Please note these two resources are outside of the University of Washington and are not formally endorsed by the University of Washington.

HOME EDUCATION // curriculum and community resources for school closures

Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine has a myriad of tips and resources for multiple subject areas of online learning.

UW’s Parent Map website has many resources and tools listed for helping parents with homeschooling.

As school closures increase, some communities are creating groups to collaborate on solutions. The “Seattle Help for Parents & Caregivers During Covid-19 Outbreak” Facebook group was created to establish a forum for parents, nannies, and caregivers in need of help during the Covid-19 outbreak to connect with other parents, help and resources. Check if your school or class has an organized support structure with similar shared resources.

PHYSICAL WELLNESS // free online yoga and fitness videos

Fitness Studios


Exercise Apps

WELL-BEING AND MINDFULNESS // webinars and resources to promote your own well-being

Fortify your skill set to cope with the challenges ahead: Dr. Tony Bach (Oncology) and Larisa Benson offer “Preparing Ourselves for the Next Wave”. This 30 minute session introduces mindfulness practices you can use on the fly and creates space to address your concerns.

Headspace meditation app is now available for free to all healthcare professionals. Register with your NPI number.

The Faculty Factory podcast has a brief guided meditation for a few minutes of calm. Neda Gould, PhD also provides tips for dealing with uncertainty in uncertain times.

Mindfulness Northwest has a collection of free mindfulness tips and practices.

Here are tips for taking care of yourself and your family members during the coronavirus outbreak. And here are five ways to help during the coronavirus.

The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health has a collection of well-being resources for yourself and others.

Mindful Self-Compassion Practice: Giving and Receiving Compassion
View the April 22nd recording. Password: 8S^!.b62

Recovery Room: Stop for an Infusion of Renewal
In this 20 min session you will try out and learn 3 different micro practices that improve well-being, curb anxiety, and regulate emotions so that you can sustain your ability to do your best work while not burning out.
View the April 24th recording. Password: 4D!@2*t6
View the April 29th recording. Password: 6i*JT9&b


UW Medical Center Northwest and Montlake campuses offer drop-in mindfulness sessions. Details for each are below.

Creative mindfulness drop-ins:

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-3PM
Via Zoom-
click here
Meeting ID-303 595 162

  • New session offered every 15 minutes
  • Contact Elyse Fairweather, Spiritual Care Provider-Palliative Care Specialist,  efairwea@uw.edu with any questions
  • Open to all UW Medicine entities

Several webinars are listed below. These 5-10 minute self care sessions can be beneficial as a friendly pick-me-up, or to provide ways of reframing our thinking.

Connecting Mind & Body for Healthy Living
Physical things you do with your body can affect the way you feel mentally. Thoughts going through your mind can affect the way you feel physically. In this module, you will learn ways to harness this mind-body connection to improve many aspects of your life.

Laughter, Humor & Play To Reduce Stress & Solve Problems
You don’t have to be a professional comedian to use humor to lower stress levels. This training offers practical ways to incorporate humor and play into everyday situations.

Learning To Relax
The training will allow you to learn and experience several simple relaxation tools such as progressive muscle relaxation, abdominal relaxation, breathing and visualization.

SPIRITUAL CARE // on-site support for Seattle-area UW Medicine team members

Spiritual Care Providers attend to the well-being of the whole person: Mind, Body, and Spirit with deep cultural and spiritual humility. We invite patients and caregivers to engage their emotional and spiritual resources of strength in the midst of both celebration and struggle. We are available to everyone, whether they consider themselves spiritual or not. We assess and attend to a patient’s existential, spiritual and/or religious distress.

We are here to help patients and staff discover ways to navigate suffering and uncertainty while building on their current strengths and practices. We support  patients, families, caregivers and staff.


UW Medical Center, Northwest

1:1 support 24/7   (i.e. moral distress, secondary trauma, grief, existential /spiritual distress and overwhelm, resilience and grounding practices)

Tea for the Soul/Drop In Debriefs

Reflection Space: D-Wing (1 person at a time)

Contact Info:  24/7 on-call # 206-598-1112;  Link to Spiritual Care and Wellbeing intranet site


Harborview Medical Center

Harborview Medical Center Managers/Charges please reach out to Jill Rasmussen-Baker if your unit/department has urgent needs 744-5768 jlrb@uw.edu

  • Please contact spiritual care for any urgent staff needs. 206-989-4946 (pager; can send text message to this number) 206-744-3155 (leaving voicemail will page Spiritual Care Provider), or through paging operator (206-744-3000)
  • Spiritual Care is actively rounding on day and evening shifts.  Staff Care is a priority for Spiritual Care.


UW Medical Center, Montlake

UW Medical Center Managers/Charges please reach out to Mia Baumgartner if your floor/department has urgent needs or should be listed as a priority 598-1112 mbaumgar@uw.edu

Please page spiritual care for any urgent staff needs. 206-559-6764 (text) 206-598-9174 (voicemail),  or through paging operator.  Spiritual Care is actively rounding on day and evening shifts.  Staff Care is a priority for Spiritual Care.

Oncology floors

  • (7SE, 7NE, 8NE, 8SA): SCCA Spiritual Health provider can be paged directly during Weekday
    • MONDAY: 206.626.4555
    • TUES-FRIDAY:  206.541-8379.
    • EVE/WEEKEND: Page 206-559-6764 (text)

1:1 support (in person or phone) 24/7   (i.e. moral distress, secondary trauma, grief, existential /spiritual distress and overwhelm, resilience and grounding practices)  See contact info below.

Tea for the Soul/Drop In Debriefs:  see contact information below to arrange. Conducted in partnership with Palliative Care Social Work Staff

Reflection Space:  3rd floor skybridge

Quiet Room:  4SE (4109) near cascade elevators

Contact Info:  24/7 on-call # 206-598-9174;  Link to Spiritual Care and Wellbeing intranet site

SUPPORT FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS // donations, discounts, and kudos

In this moment of tremendous community need, we are grateful for your caring support of the UW Medicine Emergency Response Fund. Gifts are urgently needed to ramp up COVID-19 testing, provide care for the most vulnerable, coordinate the state’s emergency response, support research, and provide lifesaving equipment and resources to ensure the health and well-being of our patients and clinical teams. Make your gift today.

Send a note, video, or photo of encouragement on our UW Medicine Kudoboard.

For the duration of the state of emergency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a temporary exception to the UW Medicine policies that restrict gifts of food and beverages provided to UW Medicine employees (faculty, staff, residents, etc.) at UW Medicine locations by external sources. If you are in a position to receive food donations please read this FAQ.

For UW Medicine caregivers, many local and national companies are offering free items and discounted rates on products and services.

Need urgent help?
Click for crisis services