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Local IBD support group goes virtual

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and public meeting places started closing, Kristin Calvert knew she needed to come up with a solution. She leads a monthly support group for caregivers, family members and patients struggling with Irritable Bowel Disease. A devastating chronic illness that affects 3.2 million Americans every year, IBD causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can lead to debilitating symptoms. It can also be a very isolating disease.

That’s why Kristin and others rely on the Sarasota IBD Support Group. They meet once a month, generally at a public library, to discuss their experiences, hear from healthcare professionals and provide mutual emotional support.

“It’s informal,” said Kristin. “Some people just sit in the
back and listen. Some people surprise themselves and open up. The conversation
strikes a chord with many.”

Several of the support group members shared with Kristin
that since the COVID-19 health crisis started, they are struggling with
flare-ups. Some are avoiding going to the doctor, which isn’t recommended, and
all are grappling with heightened anxiety and stress.

Now, the group is reconvening online through Zoom, a free video conferencing service. The first two meetings were a success.

“There are a core group of people who attend every meeting,
and we also had someone new for our first virtual meeting,” said Kristin. “Now
is a great time to get involved – people can easily log on and see what the
group is like from their own home.”

There are no expectations for members and no membership fee.
Attendees can share their story or simply hear from others.

“I just want people to know we’re here,” Kristin said.
“Taking the first step can be intimidating, but once you’re there – the
meetings are so beneficial.”

Learn more about the group on their Facebook page here.

The group’s meeting is Wednesday, May 20 at 6 p.m.
Click here to join – the password is “support”.

When in-person meetings are once again safe to attend,
they will meet the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6pm at Gulf Gate Library in

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