"Too frequently it's after the emergency responders and the newsmen leave that the real problems begin". This observation from the UN's office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs was a mandate to IMCRA at its inception and has been the mantra of our long-term Community Cyberspace program ever since.
What OCHA was referring to is underway very painfully in the Phillipines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan and in Connecticut as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Newtown Massacre.
Community Cyberspace has been reaching out to specialists in the nightmares, fear-reactions, personality changes and depression that accompany PTSD in both communities. Recently, Dr. Saclolo has recorded new educational modules in both English and Tagalog for healthcare workers dealing with populations still realling from the savage destruction in the Phillippines. Other bilingual faculty will be offering additional interactive resources shortly.
In the US, we have also recruited psychiatrists skilled in confidential interactions with both PTSD patients and their families. Community Cyberspace will be presenting its work in a Symposium in Boston on 11 December in coordination with the Second Annual BUMC/VA Joining Forces TBI/PTSD Conference.
Please help us to defray some of the expenses associated with recording our faculty, providing confidential access to patients using the system and the associated web-hosting and data processing costs. We want to make these Community Cyberspace medical resources accessible to the widest number of people who need them.
A Crying Need in the US and Internationally
Community Cyberspace expanded in July and August to address a critical domestic and international need: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and related illnesses.
PTSD is a crippling mental disorder known to arise from an intensely negative life altering experience like combat in Iraq or the loss of loved ones in Boston and Newtown. Frequently unrecognized or denied PTSD often leads to suicide or severe depression.
Led by internationally-recognized experts in PTSD like Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, MD, MPH (Col. U.S. Army (ret.). currently Chief Clinical Officer, Department of Mental Health, District of Columbia, and former Director of Behavioral Health with the Office of the Army Surgeon General, IMCRA faculty are assembling an array of tools which will enable physicians who suspect PTSD to diagnose the disorder and intervene as rapidly and effectively as possible.
Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) has recently become a prominent supporter of the program which will reach out not only to U.S. combat veterans, but to their families and all in whom the disorder remains unrecognized and under-treated.
To conduct the additional web-programming and outreach we need to make PTSD resources freely and anonymously accessible our team members Larry and George have been working diligently since late May. Please help us to make Community Cyberspace a reality for families who now suffer in silence.
IMCRA-DOJ New York staff will be meeting with our Japanese colleagues between the 6th and 19th of June in an effort to incorporate the learnings from our 4th Colloquium/Workshop (Nurses and Mobile HealthCare Workers) into refinements of the Community Cyberspace initiative. The colloquium/workshop extends our mission to capture the voice of local healthcare service providers who want to share what they have learned and experienced in their interactions with survivors. In addition to improving interactions with survivors in the Community Cyberspace program we are striving to make these learnings accessable both as archival information and as vital improvements in current efforts.
Community Cyberspace continues its outreach to elderly victims of the earthquake and tsunami currently in temporary housing in Miyako and Kesenuma, with plans for extending the system to other impacted communities.
Survey results have been tabulated and a series of responsive new systems are being prepared to enable these resilient elderly to have assisted electronic access to friends, family and physicians when they cannot travel. Response to the initiative has been uniformly enthusiastic from survivors who would otherwise not be using computers or online communication media.
With your help, we can extend this service to survivors in Miyako and Kesenuma by the end of this month.
The IMCRA-DOJ team
Progress Report: 19 November 2012
The Community Cyberspace (CC) initiative was successfully launched in Iwate prefecture November 12th through 14th 2012 with work undertaken in four resettlement areas in the vicinity of the hard-hit coastal city of Miyako. Scenes of devastation seen around the world last year remain stark and unavoidable.
The empty foundations of homes are now weed-choked, and the twisted steel girders of gutted buildings remain as shocking signatures of the toll of destruction and ruin which still marks the area. With the help of the Japanese Red Cross and the Iwate Psychological Association, IMCRA-DOJ technology specialists were able to reach elderly survivors in more remote areas with electronic options for addressing their loss and loneliness. At each location, a meeting was held with mostly elderly survivors who learned that both real-time and recorded private and personal internet connections can be made available before Christmas Connections are now being established with family, with friends and with medical/psychological professionals who are members of the IMCRA-DOJ team.
During this first trial run CC learned that almost none of the people we reached had email or Skype addresses, or for that matter were even certain what email and Skype was. In these cases we are providing temporary addresses for the receipt of mail and skype through IMCRA-DOJ. We are also striving to obtain telephone numbers and Skype addresses for persons who might want to speak privately with remote family members. Where this is not possible, CC is striving to obtain all relevant connection information and record messages from users for later transmission to family.
Where CC users may wish to privately, or even anonymously speak with professionals about their children's educational issues, physiological medical issues or psychological medical issues, IMCRA-DOJ will have professional staff standing by for consultation purposes. Major progress was made in this area with the collection of several dozen completed questionnaires requesting how people would best like to use this system. Where CC users may wish to have a taste of some of the folklore and traditions lost in the aftermath of 3-11 IMCRA has been partnering with Kigyo Mecenat Kiyogikai to provide cultural remediation either onsite or via streaming video.
We anticipate having the first permanant connections established before Christmas or shortly thereafter, depending on ground staff availability.
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