December 2020
Planning Your Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By: Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health

With the holiday season fast approaching and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surging in most parts of the country, millions of Americans—including me and my family—will break with tradition this year to celebrate in ways that we hope will help to keep us all safe and healthy. Granted, this may present some difficult emotional and logistical challenges, but I’m confident that the American can-do spirit will rise to meet those challenges.

I also recognize that this will be hard for many of us. Celebrating holidays alone or with your immediate household members can sound rather dreary. After all, who wants to roast and carve a turkey for just a few people? But, if you look at it another way, the pandemic does offer opportunities to make this holiday a season to remember in new and different ways.

Continue reading for ideas on sending gifts, making videos, sharing a meal remotely, staying safe and more.
Helping Children Focus on the Positive This Holiday Season
This holiday season is going to look a bit different for everyone. Children may have trouble understanding and coping with these changes. Dr. Gabrielle Roberts (right), a pediatric psychologist at Advocate Aurora Health, explains how parents can put “currency” back in their child’s emotional piggy bank.

Learn more by watching this video.

Find a pediatric provider in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Advocate Aurora Health No-Visitor Policy
In response to the rising community spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations, all Advocate Aurora Health hospitals have implemented a No Visitor Policy for inpatients, with limited exceptions, to help keep our patients and team members safe.

We are encouraging the use of virtual visits and virtual vigils through Zoom video conferencing to help families connect safely with their loved ones during this difficult time. Call your hospital site and ask for the chaplain on call to arrange or learn more about virtual visits and virtual vigils.

Please know that, while visitation policies have changed, Advocate Aurora Health remains committed to honoring spiritual practices of those who are hospitalized. Faith leaders and family members can send cherished religious items, such as a Bible, Holy Water, Quran, etc., as well as electronic devices. Learn more about sending critical items to inpatients.

See details about the no-visitor policy here.
Free Flu Shot Clinic on Dec. 5 and 6
Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic will host two free flu shot clinics for adults, ages 18 and older:

Dec. 5, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Muslim Community and Health Center of Wisconsin, 803 W. Layton Ave., Milwaukee.

Dec. 6, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 3222 S. 29th Street, Milwaukee.

Need healthcare insurance?
Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1-Dec. 15, 2020.

If you have questions or need assistance choosing a plan, call the Public Benefits Connection with Aurora Family Services at 414-345-4906.

We are happy to help you find a plan that fits your budget, explain the various coverage options available and answer any other questions you may have.
This is Real: A Physician Plea
Wisconsin physicians are sending a message to our communities: #COVID19 is REAL. Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe is simple: 1) wear a mask, 2) wash your hands, 3) watch your distance, 4) get your flu shot. Watch this video to learn more.

Thank you to physicians from Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children's Wisconsin, Froedtert Health, Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., Outreach Community Health Centers, Progressive Community Health Centers, ProHealth Care and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers for collaborating on this important message.
Advocate Aurora Health COVID-19 Resources
The Advocate Aurora Health LiveWell app offers virtual appointments and virtual visits with physicians 24-hours a day.
The Advocate Aurora Health COVID-19 Resource Center in English and Spanish provides the most up-to-date information, tools and resources.
Anyone experiencing COVID 19 symptoms or who believes they have been exposed, should visit our Symptom Checker in English or Spanish or call our hotline at 866 443 2584 both available 24/7 to find out what to do next.
See in English
We’ve updated our symptom checker to help you recognize the difference between symptoms of cold, flu and COVID 19. See in English and Spanish
See in English and Spanish
See in English and Spanish
See in English and Spanish
See more resource in English and Spanish
December is HIV/AIDS Month
December is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS, commemorate those who have passe on, and celebrate victories, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

Feel free to share the bulletin insert and worship slide with your faith community:

HIV/AIDS Resources
Website offers information on HIV prevention, HIV testing, starting HIV care, living well with HIV and more.
Website provides information on HIV risk reduction tool, HIV risk and prevention, resource library and more.
Website includes information on HIV basics, getting tested, treatment, tips & tools and much more.
Dec. 5, 10:00-noon

Breaking the Silence of HIV/AIDS Amidst COVID-19: We’re in this together!

Guest Preacher: Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Cosby, Senior Pastor, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Houston, TX

Biomedical Update: Dr. Stephaun E. Wallace, Director of External Relations, HIV Vaccine Trials Network, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Washington

Panel Moderator: Dr. Karriem S. Watson, DHS, MS, MPH, Assoc. Exec. Director-UI Health Mile Square Health Center, Assoc. Director Community Outreach and Engagement UI Cancer Center, Research Assistant Prof. UIC School of Public Health Community Health Sciences

Dr. Ulysses Burley III, Founder, UBtheCURE LLC, Ambassador, COVID-19 Prevention Network Faith Initiative; Dr. Jasmin Searcy-Pate, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Near North Health Service Corporation, and Ms. Vanessa Smith, Executive Director, South Side Help Center

For more information contact: Priscilla Rodriquez,
The Advocate Children’s Health Resource Center has easy access to trusted health information for parents, teenagers and children. Explore online resources on a wide variety of children’s health topics, including coping with HIV and AIDS.

Suggested eBook: Coping with HIV and AIDS

Related Articles:

Explore other resources for adults, teens and kids in the Advocate Children's Health Resource Center eBook Library and KidsHealth Online Library.
The Family Therapy Training Institute is accepting applications for new students
Are you:
A licensed therapist or psychologist ready to develop your practice
with couples and families and enhance your professional credentials?

A seasoned professional with a Master’s Degree in a human
service-related field who is seeking a path to licensure as a psychotherapist?

A new graduate with a Master’s degree in counseling or social
work who is eager to accelerate your development as a therapist on the
path to licensure?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, connect with us here at FTTI:
“A diverse community of learners dedicated to strengthening our broader community by preparing people to be competent couple/marriage and family therapists.”

FTTI is a post-graduate certificate program designed to accelerate your development
as a therapist in working with individuals, couples and families. A program of Aurora
Family Service, we emphasize real-world learning of best practice approaches that are
trauma informed and culturally humble.

For more information, visit our website at Now accepting applications for Fall of 2021! Application deadline is January 1, 2021. 
Advocate Aurora Health-sponsored events
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1:00- 2:00 p.m.

From cancer screening and awareness, to personal experiences with diagnosis and treatment, to navigating the health care system and coping with cancer during a pandemic.

This webinar will focus on:

  • Access to cancer screening through Aurora Family Service’s Wisconsin Well Woman Program – Social Work Navigation
  • Cancer Survivorship
  • COVID-19 cancer screening safety measures and the importance of cancer care screening
  • Self-Care and mindfulness

Faith leaders, congregation members, community members, caregivers and those impacted by cancer during the pandemic are encouraged to register for this free event.

Dec. 3, 1:00-3:30 p.m.

Using non-violence communication and restorative justice principles, we will explore the question, "How do our faith traditions speak to trauma and addressing polarities at this time?"

During this two-hour session, network members and Rev. Michelle Day and Hema Pokharna will guide us through a presentation and discussion on addressing polarities - opposites through the intersection of faith and restorative justice.

Together, we will:

Learn to be in relationship with others despite complete differences.
Understand what we can do to manage polarities in a way that is functional and restorative.
Identify tools to maintain dialogue by seeing beyond our differences and otherness.
Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m.

Advocate Aurora Health and AgeOptions have partnered to offer this educational opportunity for faith leaders. The webinar will include information on:

  • what social isolation is, the dangers of social isolation and how it is different from loneliness,
  • what faith communities are already doing to combat social isolation in older adults,
  • how Area Agencies on Aging can help strengthen what congregations are doing, including updates on how area agencies have responded to COVID-19,
  • available resources for individuals and organizations that serve older adults. 
  • Tuesdays from 8:30-9:00 a.m.
  • Thursdays from 6:00-6:30 p.m.

The Prayer Support Line allows us to come together in unity to release our burdens, receive comfort and express our gratitude to God for holding us close during this pandemic.

The Prayer Support Line is a place where we can join with others in prayer for health, healing and spiritual care with the expectation that God will meet us and provide us with encouragement.
  • Wednesdays, through Dec. 30
  • 6:00-7:00 p.m.

“What’s Next?” is a weekly resilience program that combines evidence-based scientific studies with encouragement from faith-based resources. Participants will gain tools to:

  • build resilience amid the difficulties of life
  • learn from their experiences
  • use the knowledge they gain to nourish themselves and the world around them

Attend any or all sessions. LaShondria Purnell, RN, a faith community nurse with Advocate Aurora Health, facilitates "What's Next?" and looks forward to learning alongside you.
Events from Our partners
Dec. 3, 7:00 PM - 8:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Interfaith Mental Health Coalition South Suburban Mental Health Cluster.

A workshop designed for all who are dealing with pandemic stress as well as those supporting them, including parents and guardians, community leaders, educators, and faith leaders of all religious faiths.

Dec. 10, 9:00 a.m.

Sponsored by The Lutheran Foundation and RemedyLIVE

The holidays can be a stressful and emotionally challenging time of year for many people in a "normal year," and this holiday season will bring its unique set of stresses and feelings of anxiety, loss and grief due to the current pandemic.

This webinar will explore some holiday challenges, emphasize the importance of acknowledging and legitimizing our feelings, help participants recognize some signs and symptoms of emotional struggle, and offer practical coping strategies, including self-care and self-compassion tips.
Dec. 10, 1:00 p.m.

Financial exploitation and fraudulent scams aimed at older adults result in the loss of billions of dollars every year. These crimes often go unreported because victims are scared, embarrassed, or don’t know who to call. The U.S. Department of Justice National Elder Fraud Hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, provides services to adults aged 60 and older who experience fraud and exploitation to help them report the crime and access appropriate resources. This webinar will offer an overview of the National Elder Fraud Hotline and answer frequently asked questions about the available services.
Feb. 4, 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Hospice Foundation of America

When a death embodies both trauma and loss, the ensuing traumatic bereavement poses special challenges and demands more than mere grief facilitation. Drawing on cutting-edge information from psychology, traumatology, and thanatology, Dr. Rando identifies 12 essential core strategies for effective clinical intervention after deaths from acute natural causes, accident, disaster, suicide, or homicide.

  • Tuesdays through Jan. 12, 2021
  • 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL

GriefShare is a special weekly seminar and support group designed to help you rebuild your life after losing a loved one. Our group is led by caring people who have experienced grief and want to help you through the difficult days ahead.

To register, call 708-366-6900 or email
Health and Wellness Resources
Mental Health e-newsletter available

Advocate Aurora Health Faith and Mental Health Quarterly provides updates on mental health resources, events and news to support the well-being of people in your congregation and community.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Cindy Novak.

  • Find a Behavioral Health Specialist
  • Services and Treatment
  • Programs for Adults, Children and Adolescents
  • And More!

  • Weight Management Programs
  • Integrative Health Coaching
  • National and Local Resources
  • Fitness and Wellness Centers
  • And More!

Stroke Risk Assessment
Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and many of the risk factors are controllable. Take Advocate Aurora Health’s online Stroke Risk Assessment to estimate your chance of experiencing one and learn about the ways you could minimize it.

If you are interested in starting a health ministry or health council in your congregation, contact Kirsten PeacheyDirector of Faith and Health Partnerships for Advocate Aurora Health. She'd love to talk with you about getting started.
December Observances
Dec 6: St. Nicholas Day (Christian)
Dec 8: Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
Dec 11-18: Hanukkah (Jewish)
Dec. 15: Dhanu Sankranti (Hindu)
Dec. 24: Christmas Eve (Christian)
Dec. 25: Christmas (Christian)
Dec. 25: Geeta Jayanti (Hindu)
Dec. 26: Kwanzaa begins
Dec. 28: Holy Innocents (Christian)
Dec. 31: Watch Night (Christian)
Wishing you and your loved ones a healthy, happy holiday season!
Want to hear from you!

We hope you find this update helpful as you promote the health of your members and community. Please contact Cindy Novak or Anya Gordon if you have topics you'd like us to address or if you have questions or concerns.
Click here to subscribe to health enews, a news service of Advocate Aurora Health, which offers breaking health stories, weight loss tips, exercise advice, the latest treatment options and much more.