Wellbeing Kits Distributed to Frontline Workers

A fort made of cardboard boxes sits in the garage of Dr. Cathy Snapp.

The contents of these boxes will soon be assembled to form wellbeing kits and delivered to the residency programs at both St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Care System, and Piedmont Athens Regional.

The wellbeing kits are the brainchild of Snapp, the Campus Director of Behavioral Health at the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Snapp wanted a way to support the local residents who are working tirelessly on the frontlines.

“Having spent the past 16 years in academic medicine focusing on the health and well-being of residents, I know how stressful hospital medicine can be,” said Snapp. “With the COVID pandemic, I could only imagine how much more intense the demands are on their time and energy. It feels critical to support our frontlines health learners. They are putting themselves in harm’s way day in and day out to serve our communities while being so brave and self-less.”

When her idea developed, Snapp reached out to her contacts in the nutrition and wellness world to see if any companies would be willing to help.

Metagenics and Atrium Innovations Professional Brands were the companies that agreed to be sponsors for the project. These companies have donated products that total to almost $32,000 and that amount will continue to grow as more items arrive.

Joy Devins, Chief of Strategy for Atrium Professional Brands, said they wanted to help out any way they could.

“We wanted to offer what we could—vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and zinc to support their immune systems on the front line,” said Devins.  “We wanted to step up and care for these physicians and residents as much as possible.”

“My heart truly melts. These brilliant and caring business and medical leaders all came together and poured their hearts and souls into this initiative,” said Snapp. “I have never seen so many people come together, so quickly, to do so much for people that they have never even met. Adversity can truly bring out the very best in all of us. On behalf of a large cohort of medical residents and faculty, I thank them with all of my heart.”

Each kit contains multiple supplements and products to boost immunity and promote wellbeing: guidelines for nutrition and lifestyle tips that can enhance your overall well-being, a two-month supply of a multivitamin/mineral product, an immune-support product, vitamins C and D3, protein powder for quick meal shakes, and information about the products and their potential benefits for immune support.

Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Center by Metagenics physician and owner, Dr. Joseph Lamb, said they were happy to be onboard with the project.

“Our hope is that these convenient nutritional supplements offer support for the self-care process and bolter immune health,” said Lamb. “We are honored to participate in this program supporting residents and faculty on the front lines of coping with COVID-19.”

All of the products from Metagenics and Atrium Innovations Professional Brands are shipped to Athens. Snapp then personally delivers the kits to the hospitals.

Snapp said the response has been nothing less than humbling.

“I have been taking loads over daily to the two residency programs at both of our hospitals, and you just cannot believe the looks of gratitude, tears in the eyes, and huge smiles on their tired, kind faces. They are all so grateful.”

“We have heard how full of gratitude they all are, but we have also heard how exhausted, fearful, and desperate they feel,” said Devins. “That’s why this is important. To support them in their hours of need because we can. We have been serving doctors and their patients for many years.  It is our responsibility to help keep them and all first responders healthy and sustained now more than ever.”

Dr. Bashar Kadhim, a third-year resident at Piedmont Athens Regional, said his kit came at the perfect time while he was working inpatient service.

Due the pandemic, Kadhim’s time in inpatient service extended from four weeks to eight weeks. He spent two weeks working in the ICU where he was taking care of 14-16 patients during his 12-hour shifts and only getting one day off on the weekends.

“It was such a joy seeing patients heal, but it was a big toll on my health. I didn’t have the time to take care of myself and my food was just for energy,” said Kadhim. “The exhaustion was evidence mostly through the last two weeks of the inpatient service which was manifested both mentally and physically. After reaching out to Dr. Snapp, she had sent me a nutritional supplement kit. After one week of using it, the difference was day and night. I have more clarity of mind and certainly feel more energized, which is reflecting on my patient care. I cannot say thank you enough!”

As of May 11, fifty wellbeing kits have been distributed to both the Augusta University/ University of Georgia Internal Medicine Residency Program at St. Mary’s Hospital and the Piedmont Athens Residency Program.

The kits have been so popular that they are even finding their way to hospitals across the country: 12 total residency programs and 600 residents and faculty are now benefiting from the wellbeing kits. Programs such as Dartmouth College, the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, and the Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program are now recipients of the kits.

Both Snapp and Devins hope these kits are a light during the darkness.

“It has been so inspiring to see the notes and emails from these residents. They are just so very, very grateful,” she said. “It means so much to them that they are not alone in this and that their efforts are seen and appreciated. They are truly, from their heart, grateful. It is my hope that these kits will help them stay safe and healthy during this time.”

“I hope it puts a smile on their face,” said Devins. “A tear that disappears because they feel they are being looked after. Their ability to stay healthy. That’s all we are thinking about right now. It’s really all that matters.”

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