As the COVID-19 outbreak became a pandemic, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) began offering virtual support group meetings. Remote meetings could help the community remain connected, supported and informed – without the risk of transmitting or contracting the virus.

The transition initially was challenging. Only a few PHA support groups offered online meetings at the pandemic’s outset. Some members didn’t have or couldn’t master the virtual platform, says Nancy Zeppa of Burlington, New Jersey.

But as more groups moved to online meetings, the community found that virtual meetings offered several advantages.

“I love the ease of the virtual group,” Nancy says. “The technology is easy for me, but I do miss seeing everyone.”

Although virtual meetings lack the magic of in-person support, they eliminated geographic barriers that prevented some patients and caregivers from joining meetings.

Now, people can join from anywhere as long as they have internet or phone access. And they can join any group, not just the closest one.

Many people who had never attended in-person meetings because of distance or being homebound, are joining for the first time.

The pandemic also has increased the need for meetings. Since virtual meetings have become the only safe, effective way to connect many patients use them to combat isolation and anxiety caused by the virus.

COVID-19 precautions changed life for Terry Jones and made it much more lonely, says Terry, of Tampa, Florida. “Our PH support group meets every few weeks, and it helps a lot.”

Many people told PHA that they benefited from virtual meetings and hope they will continue after it’s safe to meet in person.

Learn how you can join a meeting, and click here to see a calendar of upcoming meetings.