What Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice is doing during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This is such a difficult time for everyone in the community, especially those in the field of health care. Our mission at Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, since its beginning, has been to not turn anyone away based on their ability to pay. Though never verbalized but understood is the philosophy that we, as a hospice, accept anyone facing a life-limiting illness, including those with COVID-19.


Hospice care by its very definition is caring for patients and families at the end of life. Providing those entrusted to our care with the dignity, love, and support that all deserve and have a right to, is paramount during one’s final days. As a long-standing, quality health care agency our patient safety standards have always been at high.  That said, and before the government mandated stay-at-home, social distancing and use of personal protection equipment, Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice was executing its emergency plan. The plan has included limiting exposure to patients at the Karen Ann Quinlan Home for Hospice, educating and evaluating patients and families in our in-home program, as well as counseling clients at the Joseph T Quinlan Bereavement Center.


At the Karen Ann Quinlan Home for Hospice, visiting hours are limited for the safety of all patients, visitors and staff.  For this reason, we advise calling ahead.  All visitors are screened prior to entry and are required to complete and sign a questionnaire regarding their exposure and have their temperatures taken. We have asked visitors who have any type of respiratory illness to reconsider visits.  Families are encouraged to use technology to keep in touch with their loved ones. People understand this and the support from families has been tremendous. The staff at the Home for Hospice follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines regarding temperature charting, enhanced use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), strict social distancing, and stay-at-home procedures when not at work.


The Joseph T. Quinlan Bereavement Center has continued to counsel those in grief due to the loss of a loved one by holding individual counseling sessions via phone and face-to-face, with video conferencing. Counselors have successfully launched group support meetings via video conferencing that are secure and HIPAA compliant. The complete schedule of group support meetings can be found on our website at KarenAnnQuinlanHospice.org. The Bereavement Center can also be reached by calling (973)-948-2283 to schedule individual counseling.


At our Administration headquarters only essential personnel report to the office, again limiting exposure to keep our staff healthy and safe. There are daily video conferencing meetings to stay up to date with our patients’ needs. Our medical and support staff, nurses, aides, social workers and chaplains continue their work in the field, caring for patients in their homes while strictly adhering to CDC guidelines.


Our community education and outreach programs are being held via livestream video conferencing and there is a virtual “How to Prepare your Advance Directive” using the Five Wishes workbook planned on April 16, National Health Care Decisions Day.  During these uncertain times, the need to have your healthcare wishes known by your family and doctors, cannot be overstated, especially if you become unable to speak for yourself.  Information on registering for the workshop, which includes a FREE copy of the “Five Wishes,” workbook (value $5) is available on our website or by calling (973)-383-0115.


Although there’s an element of fear in contracting the coronavirus, it is with education and strict adherence to the CDC guidelines that we continue our mission to care for our patients and families.  If you know of someone facing a life-limiting illness, please reach out to Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice to see how we can help. We have served the community for 40-years and we are poised to continue serving through this pandemic and for many years to come.

How to Talk to Your Children About COVID-19

How to Talk to Your Children About COVID-19

Starting the Conversation:

If you have not talked to your children about COVID-19 yet, now is the time to do so. Given how global this pandemic has gotten, it is likely that they have some knowledge already about the virus. The first step in talking to your children is asking them what they already know and what they have heard about the virus. Then, ask them how they are feeling and if they have any questions. It is important to answer these questions with basic information and not too much detail. Let their questions guide the conversation and don’t try to cover everything in one conversation. Keep the door open for them to ask questions as they think of them.

Handling Misinformation/Misinterpretation:

It is hard for children, and even adults, to fully understand the medical side of the illness. Children may have received misinformation (they were told incorrect information) or have misconceptions (they were told correct information but have interpreted it incorrectly.) To identify these, when asking your children what they have learned to be sure to ask your children to explain what it means. This will help you determine what they truly understand and what additional information they may need. 

Handling Fear:

Avoid using fear to get your children to follow your recommendations. This will only cause more anxiety. Also, be cautious of using examples in the past or trying to reassure them that this situation could be worse. This will likely make them think it will get worse. Be sure to ask your children’s fears and skepticism’s, children often have different fears and worries than adults. You can’t reassure your children if you do not know what they are afraid of. Otherwise, you are not reassuring them, but telling them why you aren’t worried. 

Be Honest:

Do not pretend that everything is okay. Children can pick up when adults are not genuine and honest. Be sure to provide appropriate assurance but don’t provide false reassurance. Rather than telling them to “Don’t be worried,” instead, help them learn to deal with the uncertainty and fear. 

Tell them What’s Being Done to Keep Them Safe:

This lockdown and the inability to participate in their old activities can be very stressful on children. I addition if they see their friends not following social distancing rules they may become jealous or see it as unfair and ask questions. It is important to stand firm in your rules and tell them why it is important.

Here are a few expert suggestions on what to say:
  • “We know that this is something that people can catch but we also know how to help keep ourselves as safe as possible.”
  • “We don’t know everything about this virus, but we’re learning more all the time.”
  • “We are making sure we wash our hands well.”
  • “We know it’s always good to cover our mouth when we cough or sneeze.”

Establish a Routine:

Establish a routine to restore a sense of predictability. For children on the autism spectrum, this is particularly important, as well as children who were anxious or depressed before this pandemic. Reach out to your mental health/pediatric health providers for advice and assistance. 

Dealing with distress:

  • Healthy Distractions: Reading, new or old hobbies, puzzles, board games. 
  • Creative Outlets: Writing, art, blogging or music can help express feelings. 
  • Physical Activities: Daily walks, exercise, yoga or even learning dances on TikTok!
  • Relaxation Activities: Meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery

Remember to take care of yourself:

As adults we will likely have concerns about our health and those of family/friends, don’t feel the need to only focus on your children’s. When children are highly stressed they may become more demanding, regress socially with their friends and peers, act less mature, etc this is because they are overwhelmed with their concerns and have to cope with that before thinking of others. Adults may act this way as well. While the crisis brings out the best in people, it can also bring out a lot of stress, and we likely won’t be at our best all the time. It is important to remember to be patient with children, other adults, and yourself. 

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