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One of the most significant impacts of the pandemic has been the isolation that so many people have experienced. Local psychologists report an increase in clients suffering from the anxiety and depression that such isolation can produce.

But there is one underreported, yet significant group that has been even more severely impacted by the pandemic and its resulting restrictions: people with life-threatening or chronic health conditions.

Imagine being someone with cancer, or debilitating diabetes, COPD or Parkinson’s disease. And then imagine not being able to leave your home, except for periodic doctor’s appointments — many of which gravitated online — as you face your illness and the fear of contracting COVID-19.

These folks are clients of ours at Pathways, A Healing Center.

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Our organization was established in 1988 to provide free wellness and complementary health care services and programs like acupuncture, grief circles, massage and guided movement to people with life-threatening and chronic illnesses.

As the early days of the pandemic forced the closing of our doors, we grappled with what to do, fearing that our clients would experience a high degree of isolation. In my 13 years of serving as Pathways executive director, we had never experienced a large-scale crisis like the one we were facing. Fortunately, with the full support of the staff and our board, we were able to launch a virtual services platform for our free wellness and complementary health care services and programs.

I was glad that we could pivot, yet I worried: Would this meet the needs of our unusual client base? Before the pandemic, our research showed that our in-person services significantly improved people’s quality of life by reducing pain, anxiety and fatigue.

Now two and half years into a pandemic that never seems to end — with each new variant more transmissible than the last — we wanted to understand how effective we were being at meeting our clients’ needs.

New research conducted by a researcher from the University of Arizona on the effectiveness of Pathways’ virtual service offerings shows that our virtual programs (Tai Chi, meditation, writing for healing and life coaching, to name just a few), like those offered in person (energy healing, yoga) achieved equally strong outcomes, positively and significantly impacting people’s quality of life.

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The new research findings — currently under peer review and slated to be published later this year — showed Pathways participants progressing from depressed to joyful and overwhelmed to empowered, plus 16 more before-and-after pairings such as hopeless to hopeful and broken to whole. Positive shifts like these are associated with healthy lifestyle changes for disease management, pain reduction and fewer hospitalizations.

Tim ThorpeResearchers concluded that: “The successful shift to virtual programming, with similar outcomes of positive change, suggests that a mixed model of virtual plus in-person programming in the future may expand the reach of integrative services, beyond the limitations of previous programming.”

But it’s not just in the research; our numbers also tell the same story. In 2020, 4,088 services were scheduled through Pathways’ virtual programming platform; in 2021, 5,345 services were scheduled ­— a 31% increase in virtual services usage. And so far in 2022, that trend is continuing, with an 18% increase this June compared to last June.

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“Pathways offered me a space to be with other people who were also suffering, learning and healing,” said Kate Jackson, a cancer survivor and former Pathways participant who switched careers to be a health and wellbeing coach after her cancer diagnosis and now leads Pathways classes. “Accessibility is what’s key. People with chronic and terminal illnesses often don’t feel well — but virtual services mean they don’t have to leave home to stay connected and receive support and care.”

As the latest phase of the pandemic continues to escalate, it’s important to let people with chronic or life-threatening illnesses who are feeling the effects of isolation know that they are not alone. And that there is a free resource available to them, and it’s right here at

In person or online, we are — and will be — here for them. 

Tim Thorpe is the executive director at Pathways, A Healing Center.

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Tags: topics 2022 election covid 19 people’s quality of life people’s quality people with life threatening people with chronic virtual programming executive director virtual services a healing center community voices the pandemic isolation services new research our clients anxiety increase

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Arizona and Texas Continue to Bus Thousands of Willing Illegal Immigrants to Washington D.C., Add NYC as a Destination

Arizona and Texas have bused over 6,100 illegal immigrants they apprehended crossing the border since May to Washington D.C.. The migrants volunteer for the trips, motivated partly by more generous laws towards the indigent in those cities.

NPR and other new outlets interviewed the migrants, confirming that they preferred to be bused out of Texas or Arizona. One reporter said, “Ronald told me that he felt welcomed in Washington in a way he just didn’t in Texas.” The city is finding resources to deal with the migrants. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser secured a FEMA grant for an international nonprofit called SAMU to offer emergency services to migrants. The Catholic Charities umbrella organization is also assisting.

The migrants have been warmly welcomed by numerous churches in D.C., assisting them with relocating to other cities. Most migrants come from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti.

Washington D.C. has welcomed the migrants more than the border states. D.C. resident Amy Fischer said she uses her lunch break to help the newcomers. “We’re told time and time again, that this is the first time that they’re treated with kindness in their journey,” she told Spectrum News. “And that makes me proud to be a D.C. resident.”

“In a way, it’s actually perfect,” Bilal Askaryar, a spokesman for Welcome With Dignity, told The New York Times. “Unintentionally, Governor Abbott sent them to one of the best places in the nation to welcome people.”

On August 5, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state had also started busing migrants to New York City. Many migrants prefer to live there since it is one of only a few cities in the country with the right to housing laws. The city is required to provide emergency shelter for every unhoused person.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged in mid-July that Texas and Arizona had already started busing migrants there, declaring, “In New York City, we have both a moral — and legal — obligation to house anyone who is experiencing homelessness for any reason.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state’s busing program in May, which he started in order to ease the surge of migrants when the Biden administration dropped Title 42 restrictions on the border. “With Arizona community resources under all-time demand, and little action or assistance from the federal government, individuals who entered Arizona seeking asylum have the opportunity to voluntarily be transported to Washington, D.C.,” he stated. “The transportation will include meals, and onboard staffing and support.”

Morgan Carr, a spokeswoman for Ducey, said the migrants already wanted to head toward D.C. “These people are wanting to go somewhere else. They’re not wanting to stay in Arizona,” she told the Washington Examiner. “From what we’re seeing, they’re all primarily [headed to] the East Coast.”

Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the state intends to get the federal government to reimburse the costs of busing the migrants. By late June, Texas had spent $5.3 million on the transfers, according to Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Texas is conducting the busing as part of “Operation Lone Star,” which fills “the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border.” The program includes drug busts and arresting migrants for crimes.

While D.C. has been fairly welcoming of the migrants, Bowser has come under criticism for not expending any of the city’s own resources. Bowser calls D.C. a sanctuary city but said the federal government must assume the expense. Isaias Guerrero, a volunteer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, complained, “We don’t see anybody from Mayor Bowser’s office here.”

In April, Ducey said Arizona was suffering from “the worst border crisis in over 20 years,” labeling it “a national security crisis, a public safety crisis and a humanitarian crisis.” In March, the Border Patrol’s Tucson and Yuma sectors tallied nearly 57,000 illegal entry attempts in March, the highest rate in years. However, Ducey has declined to declare an invasion on the border, even after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a legal opinion declaring he had the power and urged him to.

The Arizona Sun Times asked Ducey’s office how many migrants have been bused to D.C. and New York City, how much has been spent, and whether any effort has been made to recoup the costs from the federal government, and received no response by press time.

– – –

Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]





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