Telehealth: Caring for Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Telehealth: Caring for Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

By: Melissa Popp, BA, RN, CHPN – Executive Director, Transitions Hospice   The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted nearly every aspect of our “normal” way of life. By including the use of technology in palliative care and hospice services, telehealth has ensured the continuity of services, wherever the patient resides, in the midst of the health crisis.  As Transitions quickly shifted to telehealth visits, we received overwhelming support from our partners, patients/families and team members. Nearly 20 of our skilled nursing providers we serve quickly embraced and supported the use of telehealth for both palliative care and hospice visits. Also, patients welcomed receiving care at home, allowing our team to provide the necessary services and resources. Lessons Learned: The use of telehealth has ensured timely assessments and interventions to support improved clinical outcomes and increased patient/family satisfaction. However, implementation was not without a few bumps along the way.  After identifying our internal procedures and implementation plans, we reached out to each administrator to discuss their facility’s current status, and if telehealth could be a possibility. A few important areas that needed to be addressed at each facility included: Determining the process for the telehealth visit, like obtaining appropriate consents, Providing digital devices pre-loaded with the Zoom app and instructions Cleaning procedures, and;  Training for staff and patients/families.  When visiting a patient at home, creativity has been key. Each patient/family situation is unique, and so are connectivity and access. Developing appropriate procedures and workflow for conducting timely visits were key to keeping communications in sync. It has been a growing experience for our Interdisciplinary teams (IDT), who are especially used...
Palliative Care: Why it’s so important in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Palliative Care: Why it’s so important in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Kuljit Kapur, D.O., Chief Medical Officer, Transitions Hospice In light of the COVID-19 health crisis, palliative care hotlines and telehealth visits have become the new innovations to address the surge of consultations. COVID-related pneumonia and the variable manifestations we are seeing in the different age groups requires expert management of fever, dyspnea, upper airway congestions, nausea, anxiety and delirium. Now more than ever, palliative care provides essential support to patients.  Read the complete article in the Case Management and Social Work magazine >> Resource articles regarding palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic: Palliative Care’s Evolving Guidelines During the COVID-19 Crisis Pandemic Palliative Care: ‘Beyond Ventilators and Saving Lives‘ Palliative Care: ‘The Secret Weapon Hiding In Plain Sight’ At Transitions, our goal is a holistic treatment approach that addresses both medical and psychosocial needs, including symptom management, counseling and community service support. Learn more....
COVID-19 Letter and Announcement

COVID-19 Letter and Announcement

March 21, 2020   Dear Valued Healthcare Partner,   Transitions Hospice highest priority has always been to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, their family members and our staff. The current COVID-19 pandemic means it is critical that we take every precaution possible to prevent this virus from spreading by following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with Federal, State and local health departments.   Precautionary measures Transitions Hospice immediately implemented are as follow: Our clinical and administrative staff have implemented strict precautionary measures to assist in the containment of this virus; Encouraging staff to work remotely whenever possible; Daily monitoring of employees’ health status with screening questionnaires and temperature being taken upon entering offices; Universal precautions are being exercised by all staff by consistently practicing the proper infection control protocols recommended by the CDC; Cancelling all non-essential meetings and holding essential meetings remotely via Zoom   Transitions Hospice is now expanding on precautionary measures by minimizing exposure in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities where the most vulnerable reside. The CDC has done a careful review of the death rate in the elderly, especially those with chronic illness. Experts are recommending we all take action to limit individuals from assisted living and skilled nursing facilities to reduce visits and exposure at all means necessary while continuing to provide essential care.   The high visit frequency that you are accustomed to receiving by the Transitions Hospice care team may put your patient population at risk. We believe that limiting these visits and the number of staff that enter your facility is a prudent directive from our Federal, State and local governments....
What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Simone Pike, RN

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Simone Pike, RN

I never saw myself in the medical field.  Maybe it’s because my Mom had chronic illnesses that made me an anxious child and I wanted to be far from medicine and health care. Then my Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer when I was 16. I became her caretaker. My Mom, who was previously a nurse, said I’d make a good nurse and I brushed it off. The hospice team down where I’m from were our angels. The cancer took her in two and a half months. My whole life changed. My then 17-year-old mindset went from my boyfriend and college to the meaning of life and death. I decided to take a CNA course and see how it went…I loved it. Although I’m introverted and can be seen as a hard exterior,  I was a natural at caring for people in need. When college came around, I enrolled in nursing school and although that was the second hardest thing I’ve ever gone through it was totally worth it. Caring for people, especially those in this fragile part of life, gives me so much warmth inside. I look up to all of you and the hard work we do. I’m proud to be a part of a team that really...
What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Elaina Greenarch, RN

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Elaina Greenarch, RN

Since I was a small girl, I knew nursing was my calling. In high school I started working in a local nursing home & fell in love with caring for the seniors in my community. For the past 22 years I have found an abundance of joy in serving the seniors in my area. Along my journey I was blessed to meet some amazing hospice nurses & always felt that someday my path would lead me down this road. I had always felt a special honor in assisting patients at the end of their lives, in helping them ease through their transition & doing whatever I can to ease the worry of their loved ones. A close friend, Amy Souva, started working for Transitions & immediately began  attempting to recruit me. I’d had the pleasure to work with every local hospice company but when Transitions entered the scene & she started telling me about their mission, then I read the commandments, I just knew this was the perfect team for me. And I was not wrong!  This job is so incredibly rewarding & I learn something from my fellow nurses every day! I am absolutely honored to be part of the Transitions Team! & am so thankful that Amy snatched me up to ride along on this amazing...
What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Andrea Freeman, RN

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Andrea Freeman, RN

I have been a nurse for many years and have worked in different fields during this time.  I was always interested in hospice but I was never able to commit due to having a demanding family schedule that would not have allowed me to be truly there for my patients.  Well, things change and my daughter is now pretty much self sufficient at the age of 13 (to say the least..) so my decision to revisit a hospice career came into play once more.  I interviewed with Transitions and really liked what the mission and philosophy that was presented to me stood for. Now that I have worked for Transitions for over a year, I believe wholeheartedly that I have found my passion within hospice. I enjoy the connections I have with my patients and their families.  Nowhere else can a nurse feel such gratification and validation!  To become such a part of that patient’s life at the end of their life is truly rewarding.  At the end of the day when I am mentally exhausted, I collect my thoughts and know there is nothing else I would rather be doing. I have spent many nights crying for my patients, advocating for my patients and always trying to figure out what more I can do to ensure that they have awesome moments, making each day better than the last.  I have been told that it takes a special person to be able to care for another human being in their final stages of life.  And it does.  Nursing is centered around caring and that is a trait that cannot...