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.