Conference: The Real Impact of Loneliness

 Thought-Provoking Discussions • May 2017 • New York City

Spotlighting a Rapidly Growing Public Health Crisis

The Creatively Connected Online Film Festival launch events included a Conference (which also supported the Foundation’s signature initiative, the UnLoneliness Project).  Held at New York University in Manhattan, the agenda included a series of panels exploring loneliness and isolation in several important populations, among them: older adults and caregivers; military, veterans and their families; employees in the modern workplace. Thought leaders, advocates, clinicians, human resource professionals, and a host of others came together to share ideas, experiences, and considerations to better understand this growing public health crisis.

Thanks to all who participated and made the Conference possible!

Photos from the Event

Click on any one to open in slideshow mode

Welcome and Opening Remarks
Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH; President, Foundation for Art & Healing; Medical Director, NEBGH; Faculty, Center for Primary Care, Harvard Medical School

Expert Overview
What is Loneliness and Why Should You Care: Joshua Smyth, PhD, Biobehavioral Health Department, Penn State University

Panel One: Military, Veterans and Family
Those who serve to protect us not only face mortal physical danger. Returning back to civilian life after traumatic experiences in the field can come along with other burdens, including feelings of disconnection, alienation, loneliness, and isolation, that affect military men and women and also impact their families and friends. How can we better understand this challenge, and importantly, better support those who need assistance?

  • Derek Coy, Veterans’ Health Officer, NYSHealth
  • Captain Moira McGuire, RN, Walter Reed
  • Charles Marmar, MD Chair, Department of Psychiatry, NYU
  • Michelle D. Stefanelli, DCSW, LCSW, VA Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring

Panel Two: Workplace Distress; Focus on Loneliness
With loneliness and isolation growing as a social reality, more and more people are bringing those feelings to work. Additionally, job stressors such as increased productivity demands and the rapid, technology-enhanced pace increase workplace distress in general, leaving some workers especially vulnerable to isolation and its negative impact. Moreover, we know that increased connection and engagement has positive benefits in performance and productivity. How can we work effectively to bring some timely solutions to the modern workplace, and where can we begin?

  • Andrew Crighton, M.D. Chief Medical Officer, Prudential Financial
  • Marco Diaz, SVP, Global Head of Benefits, News Corp
  • B. Alan Echtenkamp, Ph.D. Founder, Slingshot Leadership
  • Claire Levitt, Deputy Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations, NYC

Panel Three: Older Adults, Caregiving, Major Illness
As health and physical challenges increase the longer we live, so does the potential for loneliness and isolation. Older adults often lose touch with far-flung family and friends or can no longer participate in once-fulfilling hobbies and social activities; how can we help them — and those who care for them — make these last years golden?

  • Zubin Eapen, MD, Chief Medical Officer, CareMore
  • Scott Kaiser, MD, Chief Innovation Officer, Motion Picture Television Fund
  • Carla Perissinotto, MD MHS, University of California, San Francisco
  • Charlotte Yeh, MD CMO AARP Services, Inc

Closing Comments—Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH

Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH,
President, Foundation for Art & Healing
Faculty, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Joshua Smyth, PhD.,
Distinguished Professor of Biobehavioral Health and Medicine
Penn State University

Scott Kaiser, MD
Scott Kaiser, MD, is a practicing geriatrician and Chief Innovation Officer at MPTF (Motion Picture & Television Fund), which provides services, support and assistance to the entertainment industry community.  In this role, Dr. Kaiser leads efforts to improve population health and well-being through social and community-based interventions.  A graduate of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Dr. Kaiser trained within the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency, Harvard Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, and UCLA Health Services Research Fellowship—where he served as a Health Media Fellow.  Dr. Kaiser leverages his expertise to tirelessly advocate for the improvement of aging services and geriatric care.  He believes in looking beyond “healthcare” to meet people where they are and where health happens: in their daily lives, with their friends and families, in their communities.
Capt. Moira G. McGuire
Capt. Moira G. McGuire is a nurse officer with the US Public Health Service nurse and currently serves as Assistant Service Chief of Internal Medicine and Lead for Integrative Health & Wellness at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  She has worked extensively with health disparities in behavioral health and oncology settings and used her skills to craft and enhance the care of our country’s wounded, ill and injured service members as the Program Manager of Warrior Clinic.  She is the daughter of an opera singer/voice teacher father and pianist/painter/playwright mother who studied Irish Dance, ballet, piano, violin, flute, and harp. She is the founder of the annual Healing Arts Exhibit at Walter Reed and a founding member of the PHS Choral Ensemble and the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military.  The focus of her professional work lies in the belief that creativity and expression are not only essential elements in the treatment of illness and injury but in the prevention of them as well.
Dr. K. Andrew Crighton
Dr. K. Andrew Crighton is Vice President of Global Health and Medical and Chief Medical Officer of Prudential Financial. He’s responsible for global health, safety, and medical business consultation. He also provides leadership for Prudential’s medical clinics, fitness facilities, and it’s Behavioral Health, Work Life, Return to Work and Accommodation programs. Dr. Crighton serves on the national board of the Arthritis Foundation and chairs its Advocacy and Access Committee. He is a former Chair of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). A charter board member of the Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition, Dr. Crighton is also a member of the American College of Physicians, American College of Physician Executives, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and American Academy of Insurance Medicine. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and a Certified Physician Executive. During his tenure, Prudential has been recognized with The Health Project’s C. Everett Koop National Health Award, American Psychological Association Organizational Effectiveness Award, the National Business Group on Health’s Innovation in Addressing Health Disparities Award and the Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles Award (thrice). Dr. Crighton has held leadership positions within both health care institutions and corporations. In addition to his other responsibilities, he works to increase awareness of the direct and positive relationship between health and performance.
Claire Levitt
Ms. Levitt is Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations where she is responsible for overseeing health care strategy for the 1.2 million employees and retirees of the City of New York. She has been tasked with managing the City’s initiative to save $3.4 billion in health care costs over four fiscal years and recently reported that in its first two years, the project has been successful in meeting its goals through a series of joint labor-management strategies focused on value-based plan design and population health initiatives. She is an accomplished health care executive with extensive experience in health insurance, managed care, medical cost management, benefit plan design, and operations. She was previously Executive Director of the Amalgamated National Health Fund, a large national multiemployer trust fund, where she increased the surplus of the Fund while improving communication between all the stakeholders. She was concurrently the President of Alicare Medical Management, an affiliate company of Amalgamated Life that is an industry leader in delivering quality care management solutions. As a former Executive Vice President of Amalgamated Life Insurance Company, her responsibilities included oversight of all health related operations including claims processing, customer service, implementation and mergers, actuarial, provider relations, managed care, care management and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act provisions. Ms. Levitt is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Business Group on Health and has served on the Boards of Directors of the Medicare Rights Center, the National Association of Independent Review Organizations (NAIRO), and the National Association on Drug Abuse Problems. She graduated with Honors from Binghamton University and holds an M.S. in Management with a specialty in Health Management from New York University.
Ari Lowell, PhD
Dr. Lowell is the Associate Director of the Columbia Veterans Research Center, as part of the NYP Military Family Wellness Center. He has a background in PTSD, depression, anxiety, and traumatic brain injury. He previously worked at the VA NJ Health Care System where he helped veterans suffering from the effects of combat-related trauma, military sexual trauma, and other difficulties. Dr. Lowell is experienced in both individual and group psychotherapy. He is a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces.
Marco Diaz
Marco Diaz is Senior Vice President, Global Head of Benefits for News Corp. He is responsible for setting the overarching US benefits strategy in conjunction with the various business divisions with oversight to UK and Australian operations as well. Benefits include a broad suite of Health & Welfare plans, retirement plans such as defined contribution, defined benefit and non-qualified. Prior to News Corp, Marco worked for Thomson Reuters 2000 where he oversaw the Americas benefits function.
Dr. Carla Perissinotto
Dr. Carla Perissinotto is an Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine at UCSF. Carla is dedicated to working in both community and academic settings and cares for older adults at the Over60 Health Center in Berkeley and in UCSF Care at Home–which provides medical care to homebound older adults. Carla joined the faculty at UCSF in August 201 and has received multiple awards for her excellence in teaching. Carla is passionate about working with diverse communities and improving the training of internal medicine residents and all learners in the care of elderly patients. Carla also has a special interest in teaching primary care doctors how to more effectively recognize cognitive impairment in the outpatient primary care setting. Carla’s research interests are in understanding loneliness in older adults and she has gained national and international recognition for her research.
Joshua Smyth, PhD
Dr. Joshua Smyth is a Distinguished Professor of Biobehavioral Health and Medicine at The Pennsylvania State University and Hershey Medical Center. He also serves as Associate Director of Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI). He is a researcher, teacher, writer, and mentor. Most broadly, Dr. Smyth’s research reflects the application of the biopsychosocial model to meaningful health-related processes, contexts, and outcomes. Three primary areas and the integration between them comprise the bulk of his research program. These include: (1) What are the effects of experiencing stress or trauma on psychological and physical well-being and how can such effects be observed? (2) Can stress, affect, and health be assessed in a manner that permits the understanding of biopsychosocial processes in real time and in context? And (3) Can psychological interventions improve health and well-being, both in healthy individuals and individuals with existing physical or psychiatric illness? Having published over 200 articles and chapters in both medical and psychological journals and books, Dr. Smyth has made important contributions to the understanding of stress and coping, mind-body medicine, emotions, psychological interventions, pain, immune disorders, chronic illness, eating behaviors, and ambulatory naturalistic monitoring. His recent book with James Pennebaker, Opening Up by Writing It Down: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain (2016, Guildford), explores how creative and emotional expression through writing can improve health. He has served as an editorial referee for more than three dozen journals and is an active member of the American Psychosomatic Society, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the Society for Ambulatory Assessment. Dr. Smyth has shared his research in interviews with ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, Newsweek, Time and the New York Times, among many others. Finally, he is an active and engaged teacher and has received numerous accolades and awards for teaching and mentoring of students and trainees. Dr. Smyth received his Ph.D. in Health and Social Psychology from Stony Brook University and his B.A. in Cognitive Science from Vassar College.
Dr. Michelle D. Stefanelli
Dr. Stefanelli has been in the healthcare arena for over 25 years and has her Doctorate in Healthcare Administration. She is recognized nationally as a subject matter expert in mentoring for Caregivers and has received many awards and honors from the private sector, Veteran’s Administration, and Department of Defense including: New Jersey National Guard 50th IBCT Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Award, Federal Executive Employee of the Year; Manchester Award for Social Work Executives/Mental Health Professionals; Bridges Leadership; Who’s Who for Women in Business. Dr. Stefanelli in her role as Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Program Manager established the first Post Deployment Clinic at East Orange VA Medical Center. This clinic was highly acclaimed locally and at a national level. She also served on national task forces in support of the Post 9/11 returning Service members and Veterans, their Families and Caregivers. Currently, Dr. Stefanelli serves as the National Program Manager for Peer Support Mentoring and in this position manages, directs and oversees the National Family Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program including the development and provision of training curriculum for Peer Mentors, matching of new Caregivers to Mentors and Mentees, and on-going management of all aspects of the peer support at VA Central Office, Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISNs), and local levels. This includes the program expansion of Compassionate Connections providing Caregivers a second option within the Peer Support Mentoring Program and providing short-term support and mentoring from a trained Peer Support Mentor to family Caregivers of Veterans. She is responsible for the budget related to the program, clinical services, administrative functions, and day to day program operations.
Zubin Eapen, MD
Dr. Zubin Eapen is CareMore’s system-wide chief medical ocer (CMO) and leads the organization’s care delivery, clinical strategy, and clinical innovation, driving the continued evolution of the CareMore model to serve complex, high-cost, and high-need patients. Prior to coming to CareMore, Dr. Eapen served as Associate Professor of Medicine of the Division of Cardiology and Medical Director of the Same-Day Access Heart Failure Clinic at Duke University. Dr. Eapen is a member of the American Heart Journal editorial board and the author of numerous medical publications as well as the editor of the 14th edition of Hurst’s The Heart.