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Ohio: Finding Care and Connection

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OhioCollage Ohio: Finding Care and ConnectionLast week I traveled to Ohio to continue to carry forward a promise I made to my late husband Stephan. When Stephan was fighting his own battle with cancer we witnessed, first hand, the dire state of the nurses. Before Stephan died, he asked me to take care of the nurses and since that day, I have purposed to do exactly that.

A few years ago, our Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program collaborated with Kent State University to develop “Care for the Caregiver,” a curriculum designed to teach nurses how to care for themselves to prevent burnout. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Cleveland State University and Ursuline College nursing students to our community. The future of “Care for the Caregiver” includes a research consortium with all three campuses collaborating to determine how beneficial the program is for students of nursing. I could not be happier about this development as I know that this is exactly the kind of change that is necessary in healthcare.

My first stop in Ohio was with UZIT Co-directors Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee at Kent State University. The day started with “Driving the Future,” a conference for leading health care educators, students and professionals to experience mindfulness practices and to discuss the importance of self-care as it relates to moral distress.

As day transitioned into night, I was able to shift my focus from healthcare to fashion when I was invited by students and the Fashion School Director, J.R. Campbell to tour Kent State’s beautiful museum of fashion. I love when dots connect like this! I connected with future designers as we talked about culture, art, design and the importance of preserving the artistry of techniques such as pattern making, a dying art form in fashion design.

The evening event, “Designing the Future,” was a night of inspirational speakers including Rodney Yee who asked everyone to imagine their mothers needing care. University President Lester Lefton addressed the audience of healthcare professionals, sharing his pride in Kent State’s commitment to excellence and its leadership in healthcare education. I was touched by his eloquent speech, in which he expressed gratitude for Urban Zen and our dedication to transforming patient care by caring for the caregiver. President Lefton presented me with the Kent State University Medallion, one of only three people to receive  100 years of academic excellence. It was an extraordinary moment for me.

After Kent State we visited Ohio State University where I had the pleasure of meeting University President E. Gordon Gee – a wonderfully charismatic man whom I bonded with right away, especially over his love of yoga! While at OSU, I visited the Wexner Medical Center, one of the largest academic medical centers in the country that happens to be the only one in central Ohio. I loved their mission to improve people’s lives through innovation in research, education, and patient care. I am very much looking forward to continuing our conversations with OSU in the future.

Before returning to NYC, I stopped by Bungalow – our newest retail partner – to celebrate the launch of our collaboration. From the moment I walked into Bungalow, I felt at home. They have a beautiful environment that perfectly complements the Urban Zen aesthetic and I am delighted that they are now carrying a gorgeous selection of wares from our Haiti Artisan Project.

My experience in Ohio was exciting and rewarding on every level. Urban Zen and its mission is at the heart of everything I do so, for me, to see it expanding and evolving in this way is really amazing. When I step back and look at the progress, and the way the dots are truly connecting to create real change, I am reinvigorated with exactly the kind of energy I need to keep moving forward.