Jefferson COVID Stories
Project Description

Jefferson COVID Stories is an online platform for members of the Jefferson Health community to share their experiences with COVID and read the experiences of others. It was co-created by Nick Safian and Danielle Snyderman during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic; for several weeks, various prompts about the pandemic were mailed out: from "Write a pandemic haiku" to "what are some of your biggest fears during this time?" to "Why do you continue to do what you do?" As Safian and Snyderman collected responses, they showcased them on the website. Members of the Jefferson community could go to the website to read the responses of others, and also to respond to the prompts themselves. What the team created was a collection of the "Jefferson COVID experience"–individual unique threads that wove together to create our community's story from that time. The acts of reflecting and reading reflections were very cathartic, empowering, inspiring, and refreshing for people. The team also created a repository--an archive of sorts of our community's real-time reactions to the pandemic. Later on during the pandemic, following the murder of George Floyd, it was clear that the story portrayed on Jefferson COVID Stories would not comprise the whole truth if it did not address the racism so plainly exposed in the U.S.  This inequality could not be uncoupled from American story of COVID-19, and by extension, Jefferson's story of COVID-19. Jefferson COVID Stories thus invited members of the Jefferson community to share their experiences with racism. Again the responses were powerful. Select entries from the Jefferson Covid Stories website have since been curated into a special issue of Jefferson's literary journal Evanescent. This journal thus represents a physical archive of these entries that can stand next to the virtual repository that lives on the website.

Translational Perspective

Nick Safian truly believes that the process of responding to these prompts, giving people the opportunity to reflect and creatively generate reactions to their experience, provides much needed catharsis and release during a very stressful time. While it may not have been clinically measurable, the impact of this project was palpable, in the power of the words received through the myriad heartfelt responses displayed on our site. These stories were embraced by the Jefferson community, they provided comfort, support, solidarity. As such, Nick Safian believes this "intervention" improved the "health"--the wellbeing--of the community at this time. It allowed people to be part of something generative, bigger than them, all the while giving them space to react and process and unload the experiences they were having at that time.

Contact Infomation: First name
Contact Information: Last name
Contact Information: Position title
Medical Student
Contact Information: Institutional affiliation
Thomas Jefferson University
Contact Information: Email address
nicholas.safian [at]

New York, USA