Heal the Healers
Heal the Healers is a weekend workshop program created specifically for frontline healthcare workers by the frontline healthcare workers of the Deep Medicine Circle (DMC). The DMC is a women of color-led nonprofit organization founded in 2021 by UCSF Professor of Medicine Rupa Marya to cultivate a culture of care, while addressing the structural causes of illness the pandemic has made stark.
As the Covid pandemic continues, rates of PTSD, depression, suicide, anxiety and burnout have increased in frontline health workers. This program directly address those mental health concerns, while giving healthcare workers space to collectively grieve the pandemic experience and re-conceptualize their healing purpose.
The program will take place at the Te Kwe A'naa Warep Farm, a 38-acre farm in Ramaytush Ohlone territory in the coastal town of San Gregorio, just 35 minutes south of San Francisco. The DMC is operating this agroecological farm to advance Indigenous values of healing the earth and healing the people and creating the legal structures to move the land back to Ohlone hands. We grow culturally relevant organic food to give away to people impacted by hunger in the San Francisco Bay Area and medicines to support community wellness through our Farming is Medicine program.
UCSF Frontline Health workers at the Farm Clare Van de Mark, RN, Rupa Marya, MD, Rosa Villarroel, RN, Ashley Bernon, RN
We piloted the Heal the Healers program in 2022, bringing dozens of healthcare workers to the farm for a full day experience involving circle medicine, ceremony, participation in farm activities (mulching, harvesting, compost preparation, soil care), ecological care of the creek, tea compounding workshops and farm to table meals. DMC members Rupa Marya (UCSF Professor of Medicine/artist, founder), Sage LaPena (California Indigenous herbalist, Director of Indigenous Plant Medicine and Traditional Ecological Knowledge) and nurse Rosa Villarroel (UCSF Advanced GI nurse/Indigenous Mapuche) developed this program to support for the wellness of frontline health workers.
“We give a lot of ourselves as caregivers. We need to sustain ourselves in the labor of care work.” –Rosa Villarroel RN
We will continue a monthly workshop welcoming 10 participants at no cost to them. The program will involve walking the land, learning about the ecology and history of the land, and the current Farming is Medicine program. Morning activity will involve engaging with the garden to care for the crops and assist in ecological restoration projects involving the San Gregorio Creek. Exposure to biodiverse ecosystems, including the forest, meadows and creek at Te Kwe A'naa Warep offer many sites for restoration and healing. Activities include supportive groups, team building, self preservation skills, connection with nature, storytelling, healing circles, healing foods and new knowledge of how we can begin to heal ourselves, as well as community. Participants will have the opportunity to interview each other and record these important histories, to document the impact the pandemic has had on us and what role land has in our healing. To encourage self-care and grounding, an herbal tea workshop will be offered, to invite participants to learn about herbs that can calm the nervous system and to concoct their own personalized recipes to take home with them. A full organic farm-to-table breakfast and lunch will be provided both days to all participants, prepared by one of our chef partners. If they should choose, participants in this program will become part of a pool of community members the DMC calls upon for monthly farm weekend workdays, so that engagement with this healing place can continue over time.
We are a 501c3 public benefit organization and are seeking $100,000 to support the ongoing growth and expansion of this program. We know land can heal us and we wish to open this place we steward to our colleagues who we know are also suffering and deeply need support to compost the trauma the pandemic has brought.