Hospice care workers continue to deliver essential care during COVID-19 crisis

Posted at 5:41 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 17:41:49-04

BALTIMORE — Despite uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, advance care planning remains critical.

With death tolls and confirmed cases rising in Maryland advance care is vital, especially for the high-risk patient population receiving hospice care.

Gilchrist spoke with WMAR-2 News on how the organization continues to provide care while keeping everyone safe.

"We are prepared and we are using our personal protective equipment as if everyone is positive," said Gilchrist president Cathy Hamel. "While we don't have any cases at our facilities we don't believe we will make it through this event without serving some COVID-19 patients."

Hamel was up front and honest about the risks facing staff members. She also said staff has undergone training to keep everyone themselves and clients as well as their families safe.

In addition to protective gear there's also been a change in visitation policy for families.

"In the past we have never had visitation hours, nor have we ever limited the number of visitors," she said. "Unfortunately that has changed. We are limiting it to one family member and we are also limiting that visit time to the final hours of that person's life."

The change has been difficult for family and staff.

Hamel described one instance where people were outside the terrace window looking in on a loved one for one final goodbye.

"It's not been easy," she said. "To the extent in which we get reactions we're sharing with families what we can. "Whether that’s a gentle smile or maybe a hug of a hand, we are communicating that back to the family and doing all that we can as positive experience as we can make it given the limitations."