Year in Review 2020: Facing Up to COVID

July 11, 2021

In collecting stories for this publication, “Facing Up to COVID,” we found ourselves repeatedly using the word “grateful” as we reflected on all of the people within the McLean community and beyond who helped face the challenges of 2020.

In one word, “grateful” captures so many of the feelings that we have for our community and the thousands of individuals who dedicate themselves to delivering on our mission. In 2020, that dedication shone through in everything we did as a hospital and as part of the Mass General Brigham system.

In this magazine, you will have an opportunity to read more about our COVID response, including:

  • The heroic efforts of staff from across all areas of the hospital to ensure the safety of our patients
  • Our aggressive response to the mental health crisis that is being seen in Massachusetts, nationwide, and globally
  • The rapid way in which we launched telemedicine for psychiatry and the lifeline digital health has become for many patients and families

Cover of Year in Review 2020 - 2 women walking outside brick buildingBeyond COVID, our staff and our hospital, like so many individuals and organizations nationally, were moved to act in the face of the racial violence and injustice that we saw in 2020.

In this magazine, we are honored to highlight McLean’s first chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD, as well as the important work she has launched to address racial injustice and inequity within McLean and more broadly across the greater Boston and national communities.

As the hospital reacted swiftly to world events that hit close to home, our day-to-day business of clinical care, research, training, and education continued. We are excited to share other important milestones, among them:

  • Earning a $15.9 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the brain mechanisms behind depression and anxiety
  • Recruiting Daniel P. Dickstein, MD, FAAP, to spearhead the PediMIND (pediatric mood, imaging, and neurodevelopment) Program at McLean and Alisha Moreland-Capuia, MD, to establish and lead the Program for Culturally and Trauma-Informed Community Outreach
  • Launching a popular mental health education webinar series that has been viewed in more than 100 countries

While we took many positive steps to address the challenges of 2020, we recognize that we have yet to see the full toll of the grief, isolation, trauma, fear, and stress experienced by so many as a result of the pandemic and social injustices. In fact, we know that the need for mental health care has never been greater.

As we look ahead through 2021, the McLean team is already mobilizing to meet the increasing demand for services with the planned opening of 68 new inpatient beds in southeastern Massachusetts, continuation and expansion of telehealth services, and provision of expert mental health consultation and training for colleagues from around the globe.

These efforts, among others, are allowing us to make a lasting and positive change in the world around us, and we are deeply grateful that thousands of individuals and families each year support us and trust us with their mental health.

Read the Articles

Facing the COVID Crisis
In early spring 2020, McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, predicted that across the country, the COVID-19 medical surge would be closely followed by a second life-threatening surge—one focused on the need for urgent psychiatric care. By mid-May, the demand for psychiatric beds across Massachusetts was overwhelming, causing McLean’s leadership to take action in concert with leadership across the Mass General Brigham (MGB) system.

Germ Warfare: Fighting COVID on All Fronts
On December 17, 2020, Paula Bolton, MS, CNP, ANP-BC, director of Infection Control, received McLean’s first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This signaled the beginning of the end of a very long year that saw Bolton and her colleagues in Infection Control and Internal Medicine working to protect the hospital’s patients and staff from COVID-19.

Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD: McLean’s First Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
Following the profoundly disturbing and tragic events of 2020 that cast a spotlight on racial injustice and inequities in our society, McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, felt compelled to take action, and propelled McLean into a dialogue about systemic racism.

Moreland-Capuia Leads New Culturally Informed Trauma Care Program
Nationally renowned psychiatrist Alisha Moreland-Capuia, MD, has been recruited to lead McLean Hospital’s new Institute for Trauma Informed Systems Change. Moreland-Capuia, an expert in trauma-informed care, specializes in working with underserved populations. She moved from Oregon Health & Science University to join the McLean community in the summer of 2020.

McLean Embraces Telemedicine
In the chaotic early days of the pandemic, when federal and state regulators lifted a variety of legal barriers to telemedicine services, McLean Hospital programs raced to provide telemedicine to all levels of care. Within two weeks, McLean pivoted to telemedicine, with 100% of outpatient and partial treatment moving online, and inpatient services changing in fundamental ways.

NIMH Grant Expands Studies of Brain Mechanisms Behind Depression and Anxiety
With a $15.9 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), investigators from McLean Hospital and four other institutions will further their studies into the brain mechanisms behind depression and anxiety. According to Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, director of the McLean Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research and the McLean Imaging Center, the grant will increase understanding of the brain circuitry associated with anxiety and depression.

Dr. Daniel P. Dickstein Brings Child Psychiatry Research Expertise to McLean
Physician-scientist Daniel P. Dickstein, MD, FAAP, has come to McLean Hospital to further his groundbreaking research on the biology of childhood psychiatric disorders and help improve mental health care for children, teens, and young adults. Thanks to a generous grant from the Charles H. Hood Foundation, his lab is set to take a major step forward in its research.

“Again, It Was Tom and Me Together”
In a black-and-white photo from the 1950s, 13-year-old Louisa Thoron and her 4-year-old brother, Tom, pose together in the grass behind their home in Ithaca, New York. Louisa is sitting back on her elbows, and Tom leans onto one of her arms. Tom would continue to lean on Louisa throughout his life.

Learning in Your Living Room
For months, staff from McLean’s Education Outreach team had been planning to start a regular webinar series. When the pandemic was recognized in the United States in March 2020, the team quickly mobilized to provide mental health information to the public six weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

Strengthening Resilience in the Time of COVID
Even though many of McLean’s faculty and trainees attend their share of daily Zoom meetings, one meeting in particular has become a welcome respite from the others. A virtual peer support series offered by McLean’s Office of the Chief Academic Officer, “Strengthening Resilience in the Time of COVID,” offers an opportunity for participants to problem-solve and discuss resilience in the face of stressors brought on and exacerbated by the pandemic.

McLean’s Online Offerings Earn Accolades
In recognition of McLean’s online mental health resources, including webinars, blog articles, and thought leadership pieces that are widely available to the broader community—particularly those focused on minority mental health—Color Magazine recently honored the hospital with its All-Inclusive Award.

Read More in the Full Issue

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