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Coronavirus: Keeping Our Communities Safe

23 Mar 2020, Posted by Seasons in Community

A message from Annemarie Switchulis, RN, BSN, MSN, President and COO of Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to expand across the United States, Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care is committed to serving our patients, keeping our communities safe, and protecting our staff. The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented event, and it requires the full attention of all healthcare providers to ensure we are all doing our part to limit the spread of the virus and properly care for patients in a responsible way. Seasons is working tirelessly to ensure our staff have everything they need to continue providing care while limiting the spread of the virus. We are following all Centers for Disease Control and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines for COVID-19, as well as working closely with all local and state departments of health.  

Hospice services couldn’t be more important than in the current moment. Coming to terms with a life-limiting illness can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Against the background of coronavirus our patients need our social, spiritual, and medical support more than ever. The holistic approach of hospice can help soothe the hopes, fears, and stressors that coronavirus may add to the end of life. 

Hospice is also here to support all our partners across the health care continuum. As the need for our health system to respond to COVID-19 increases, Seasons stands ready to help keep patients out of acute care settings and comfortable at home. 

Serving our patients: 

Seasons is committed to responsibly providing the same high-quality hospice care for which we have been known for over 23 years. As national experts in hospice and palliative care we know that even in the midst of the current outbreak, patients and families still need the support and comfort hospice offers, perhaps more so now than ever. We are providing hospice services to the 29 communities we have the honor of serving, while finding creative solutions to ensure we do so safely in light of the coronavirus. If you have a loved one or patient who may be ready for hospice care, you can reach out to our team of experts 24/7. 

Hospices are a critical part of the health system in the U.S. and have the singular expertise in supporting patients suffering from terminal illness that will be critical in the weeks and months ahead. Our interdisciplinary care teams can not only provide pain and symptom management, but also psychosocial and spiritual counseling that can alleviate symptoms of social distancing or isolation. Our patient experience teams and volunteers are here to provide much-needed companionship and check-ins on our patients and their families that will be crucial to their well-being in situations where distancing may not allow patients to participate in social activities. 

Eligible patients cannot wait for the coronavirus outbreak to be over to receive hospice care. Those suffering from a terminal diagnosis deserve the person-centered care that hospice is known for, without delay wherever possible. Seasons commits to responsibly providing care throughout the coronavirus outbreak. 

Keeping our communities safe: 

Hospice services are provided by an amazing interdisciplinary team of professionals that travel to each patient to care for them, wherever that patient calls home. We bring our pain management, counseling, medical equipment, and care to those that need it. And in this time of concern, Seasons takes our commitment to infection control and prevention seriously. Our teams of community-based hospice and palliative care professionals live and work in some of the areas most affected by the coronavirus and we are doing our part to limit the spread of the virus. Internally and externally, Seasons is working to be a part of the response to COVID-19 by: 

  • Following all CDC and CMS guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus for some of our most vulnerable populations; 
  • Providing extensive training and constant communication updates to our staff at all levels around infection control and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) technique; 
  • Creating a national coronavirus internal response group coordinating best practice and responding to staff questions and concerns around the clock; 
  • Offering free webinars and continuing education to our community partners on care of hospice patients in light of the coronavirus outbreak, taught by national subject matter experts, and; 
  • Coordinating our efforts with local and state departments of health and emergency services. 

Protecting our staff: 

Our vision statement directs us in part to ‘…support our staff so that they can put patients and families first.’ We cannot deliver the excellent care hospice is known for unless we are providing our employees with the tools and education they need to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, and Seasons is committed to doing exactly that. 

Our clinical logistics and operations teams are working around the clock on ensuring our staff have the training and PPE to provide excellent and safe hospice care, while keeping employees healthy and lowering risk of infection in the communities we serve. Staff are receiving daily updates on best practices in infection control, and we have built a comprehensive internal hub with up-to-date information on COVID-19. 

Seasons staff also have access to a robust employee assistance program that provides resources and free counseling sessions. Additionally, our Employee Council, which is made up of front-line staff members from every site across our organization, is having weekly calls with our national executive leadership to provide a direct conduit for sharing of information so we can address concerns and solve problems in real time. suggest:  We are also working to leverage technology so staff can work remotely where possible and connecting patients with their families via video chat services to help limit contact. 

Our commitment: 

Seasons will strive to continue to serve patients, their families, and our staff according to our company mission, vision, and values. As the coronavirus situation evolves, we will do everything in our power to continue to provide high quality patient centered hospice care to those who need it, while keeping patients, families, our staff, and our communities safe.  

Annemarie Switchulis RN, BSN, MSN
President and Chief Operating Officer
Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care