National Panel Sponsored by Veterans Group

The importance of keeping loved ones together during a crisis like COVID-19 was one of the many points emphasized by Center for Discovery CEO, Patrick H. Dollard, during a recent panel on post-pandemic mental wellness.

Dollard has become a frequent contributor to the prestigious panel – sponsored by America Salutes You and Entertainment Industries Council Inc. The non-profit organization, America Salutes You, produces star-studded music concerts to honor and raise awareness of issues faced by veterans, servicemen and women, first responders, and their loved ones.

This roundtable was entitled, “Planet Earth Reboot – Our Mental Wellness as We Emerge from Covid-19.”  Each panelist was asked to address mental and emotional wellness at their respective organizations during the pandemic and in the months following lockdown.

Patrick Dollard said The Center was well ahead of the curve in terms of having a pandemic plan, expert medical team, stockpile of PPE (personal protective equipment) and ongoing, daily center-wide data about infection and spread, but still more had to be done. “I had to start to run the place differently – with military precision,” he explained, “Rules had to be put into place. Quarantines had to be enacted. So, along with science you had to create the infrastructure. You had to design and implement different strategies to keep people safe.”

The Center opened its own “Staff Market” and “Wash House” to keep employees safe and out of crowded public places.  The Ride Share program was expanded, and a new emergency daycare was set up for staff children so their parents could work.  “We learned we needed to do a lot more for our staff and our families,” Patrick told fellow panelists.

When vaccinations became available, The Center was out in front again – offering the shots to all 1700- staff members and more than 300 residents. Good, clear, precise, vetted, science-based information was invaluable.  “We were doing webinars – talking to 1,000 people a week – parents and staff – trying to give them information so they could make their own decision,” he said. This clear and consistent communication led to a vaccination rate of 98% among residents, and no deaths.

In the months since the quarantine was lifted across New York State, The Center has increased its employee benefit profile immensely to include emergency financial assistance, expanded financial counseling, chronic disease management consultation and many opportunities for better mental, emotional and physical wellness from the various art, music, recreation, physical education and nutrition departments on campus.

Patrick worries not only about his staff but post-traumatic stress (PTS) in everyone – a problem often experienced by veterans, servicemen and women, and first responders, and made worse by isolation at home and in hospitals, nursing and residential facilities during the pandemic.  “This pandemic also points out that there is no border. We all have so much in common with each other…there’s nothing dividing the disabled from the elderly and those with PTS. The more we can collaborate – the more everyone is going to be better,” he said and urged architects, medical and science professionals to come together to design hospitals and other facilities to better serve these individuals.   “I think we need to emphasize how to keep loved ones together during the most difficult times,” he said, “and if we can figure that out, we’ll be in a much better shape if this or any other pandemic comes around again.”

To watch the latest America Salutes You concert and support our nation’s veterans, service people and first responders, visit:

The tribute to Billy F Gibbons includes:  Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Jimmie Vaughan, Larkin Poe, Lucinda Williams, Chris Janson, Tim Montana, Travis Tritt, and other surprise guests.