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A Moment To Pause

January 6, 2021

Through this note, by offering a reflection on the remarkable spirit of the nearly 6,000 DPH and UCSF staff, scientists and clinicians contributing at ZSFG, we intend to highlight our collective efforts to becoming the best place to work.

Dāna (daan)

Growing up in an Indian household and practicing Hinduism, celebrating Christmas traditions was not our norm, but the act of gift-giving is a prominent one in many Indian customs and Hindu traditions. There are so many variations to the act of giving, or dāna, in Hinduism. My upbringing and tight-knit Indian community back home in Los Angeles shaped my passion and dedication to serving others, doing so thoughtfully, and doing so with the right intentions. Dāna to me carries more than just a meaning of donation or giving – it signifies gratitude, empowerment, and responsibility. Dāna, defined as a noble deed and one without any expectation of something in return, also reminds me of seva, or service.  

As we experience the holiday season during the COVID pandemic, we are reminded of how -- like many other aspects of our lives -- gift-giving may take on a different meaning this year. What do we really want to give to others…and also receive? Love, empathy, kindness? An attitude of gratitude? What have we learned about others and ourselves in the last many months of this pandemic? How can we better serve each other, our community during this difficult time? How can we support our community, many of whom are struggling to meet their basic needs? How can we support our patients after they are no longer in our care? 

Given the significant and disproportionate impact of this pandemic on underserved communities in San Francisco, particularly the Hispanic/Latinx community, many of us recognized the disparities and disadvantages experienced by our patients. When Adrien Barbas and I applied for the Hearts Grant with the idea to provide a kit of basic resources for our patients as they transitioned from the hospital back to the community, our aim was to reduce the discrepancy between hospital discharge recommendations and the socioeconomic reality our patients face in the community. Patients and families told us what they needed to get on with their lives, most of which are not typically prescribed by providers. 

We include items such as surface disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, a thermometer, among other items in the discharge kits. By partnering with patients to create a kit with basic resources, we intended to support patients with COVID-19 in having a fairer chance at safely and effectively recovering from their illness and preventing further transmission of the virus to their loved ones.   

We strongly feel providing these discharge kits is meeting their most basic needs and not going “above and beyond.” With ongoing contributions, we hope to sustain and expand this work. To date we have distributed more than 75 discharge kits to our patients admitted with COVID-19.  More than 82% of surveyed patients reported the discharge kit helps them access resources they otherwise would have trouble obtaining.  

The project reminds us of how much we learn and receive from our patients and the community we serve. During these times when we are all stretched thin and in need of respite, love, kindness, empathy, -- I am deeply grateful to our ZSFG family. May we continue working together to exemplify what it means to serve our community and to do so with compassion, humility, kindness, and respect, the qualities of dāna I first learned in my home family.

“Fixing and helping create a distance between people, but we cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected. Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.”
- Rachel Naomi Remen 

An assurance unto all creatures with love and affection and abstention from every kind of injury, acts of kindness and favor done to a person in distress, whatever gifts are made without the giver's ever thinking of them as gifts made by him, constitute, O chief of Bharata's race, the highest and best of gifts (dāna). 
- The Mahabharata, XIII.59

Tanvi Bhakta, MSN, RN, CNL
H66/68 & H47 Nurse Manager

Resources & Support for Employees

In support of your reflections we encourage you to engage partners at the DPH and UCSF employee assistance programs at the links below.
Employee Assistance Program

Our Employee Assistance Program for tele-counseling is now available for DPH employees 24/7.
For UCSF Colleagues

Faculty and Staff Assistance: Explore diverse counseling services here.

UCSF Department of Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry created a website listing multiple resources.  Some are available only on the Parnassus Campus, others for UCSF employees.  The majority are for the whole San Francisco community.

Issue #1: Gardening Pause
Issue #2: Unmasking
Issue #3: New Rituals
Issue #4: Roots
Issue #5: Hello In There
Issue #6: Thresholds
Issue #7: To The Nurturers
Issue #8: Remembrance
Issue #9: The (TBD) Generation
Issue #10: The Purge
Issue #11: The Multiple Worlds of Black Health Workers
Issue #12: Sometimes Soldiers Wear Scrubs
Issue #13: Showing Up
Issue #14: Garden Poetry
Issue #15: Good Trouble
Issue #16: Photo Exhibit Series, Part I (July 29, 2020)
Issue #17: Music Exhibit Series, Part I (August 12, 2020)
Issue #18: Trust (August 28, 2020)
Issue #19: Treasures In Our Midst, Part I (September 8, 2020)
Issue #20: Beauty and Resilience from the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees (September 22, 2020)
Issue #21: Confessions From the Home Front: The Unequal Burden on Women (October 6, 2020)
Issue #22: Photo Exhibit Series, Part II (October 20, 2020)
Issue #23: Introducing the Resilience Garden (December 8, 2020)
Issue #24: Bright Spots (December 23, 2020)
We welcome your feedback about A Moment To Pause.

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