Patients on hospice are known to have weakened immune systems due to the present ailments they have. These patients present a greater risk of having COVID-19 related complications and thus, require more protection from the pandemic. So what can hospice do to keep them safe? Hospices around the valley must have infection control practices and procedures in place to keep themselves and patients safe from known pathogens (Vossel, 8/5/2020). But never before has there been such an increased need for the use of these control practices.
To safeguard against spreading COVID-19, CMS (Medicare and Medicaid) permitted hospices to decrease in-person visits with patients and increase tele-communication visits. For the first time, hospices are able to talk with their patients via videocall to complete assessments from afar. This practice lowers the amount of in-person contact, lessening a patient’s exposure risk (Vossel, 8/19/2020). Around the same time that hospices adapted their practices, assisted living facilities and care homes around the valley closed their doors to visitors. While assisted living facilities and care homes are slowly starting to reopen their doors to the community, hospices are still taking every precaution.
Family Comfort Hospice, in specific, is keeping in-person visits low (unless visit frequencies are necessary) and hospice staff wears full personal protective equipment (PPE) during visits. Typical PPE includes a surgical mask, face shield, gown and gloves. Staff members change into new PPE from patient to patient so as not to bring pathogens from one patient to the next. And of course, they hand wash regularly! Staff members are tested regularly, as well as patients. Every FCH staff member checks their temperature every morning before starting work to insure no COVID symptoms are present. Family Comfort Hospice is proud to say our infection rates remained low at the peak in June, and have decreased since then, for both patients and staff.
Keeping patients and staff members safe is an ongoing main priority during this time and will remain a main concern going forward.
Vossel, Holly. 2020, August 5th. “Hospices Dig in to Protect Patient Amid Uptick of COVID19”. Hospice News.
Vossel, Holly. 2020, August 19th. “Rise of Hospice Telehealth Can Stoke Patient Satisfaction”. Hospice News.