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Hospice and COVID- 19, Your Questions Answered

Hospice of North Ottawa Community provides a comforting service that can allow people to experience togetherness at the end of life, even during COVID-19. Medical Director, Dr. VanderHeide answers some common questions below.
Q. What is hospice?
A. Hospice is specifically designed to provide comfort-focused care, equipment and services in the last few months of life. The objective is to help patients stay comfortable and experience the end of life on their terms. It is also intended to provide support for family members and caregivers, relieving stress and helping them deal with the many unknowns.
Q. Is North Ottawa Community Hospice still providing care during the coronavirus pandemic?
A. YES! We are still providing this essential care through a combination of services. We can use telehealth for some of our work, and then add in-person visits when it is necessary. We also have a hospice residence where patients can stay. Our staff is screened twice per day for fever and other symptoms. We also have all the necessary personal protective equipment and training to provide care.
Q. Why should I consider hospice care rather than having my loved one in the hospital?
A. Hospitals are required to restrict visitors in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. This means that a hospital patient at the end of life is virtually alone, increasing their hardship as well as that of their family and friends. However, visitation (with appropriate precautions) is more accessible for patients who are receiving hospice care in their own home or at our hospice facility. This is important for the patient, but also for the friends and family who want to create memories with someone they love.
Q. Do you help patients use technology when in-person visits are not possible?
A. Yes. We know how important it is for patients and those who care about them to connect. Our staff has phones and tablets, and will use them to facilitate calls and video conferencing with friends or family members.
Q. It is very difficult for people to grieve during this time, as many conventional end-of-life rituals cannot be observed. What can North Ottawa Community Hospice do to help?
A. We have a grief and bereavement team that is providing phone support during this time. They are available to anyone in the community who is grieving a loss…even if that person did not receive hospice care from us. Please call (616) 846-2015 and ask to speak to a bereavement counselor if these services would be helpful to you.
Q. How would I request hospice care?
A. Talk to your physician if you feel that hospice care might be right for you or a loved one. Once we receive a referral, our team will schedule an evaluation to start a plan of care. If you have questions, please call us at (616) 846-2015.
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