Coronavirus Outbreak Response

covid-19A response from your hometown hospice.

Big Bend Hospice is taking all precautions to ensure the safety of our patients & their loved ones, volunteers and colleagues. Learn more about how we are dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis below.

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April 20, 2020

Download Caring for a Person at Home with COVID-19: Caregiver Instructions available in English and Spanish


April 13, 2020

By William Wertman, MSW
Big Bend Hospice CEO and Administrator

Caregivers are facing extreme challenges due to COVID-19 and the effects of social distancing and isolation.

More than 43 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult or child within the past 12 months, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. In normal times, these caregivers experience stress as they provide around-the-clock care to loved ones.

At Big Bend Hospice, we encourage caregivers to ask for help, but how can caregivers access assistance when members of their support network must stay at home due to COVID-19?

As CEO of Big Bend Hospice, the nonprofit Hospice provider in our region for 37 years, I want everyone to know that we are here to help patients and caregivers during these challenging times. The need for Hospice and the support services we provide doesn’t stop during a pandemic.

Many people think of Hospice as a provider of care only in the final days of life. In reality, we offer a continuum of care to enhance quality of life for patients and caregivers. If you’re a caregiver, please don’t suffer in silence. Here are three ways to access help:

Under the management of a registered nurse, Golden Age @Home helps caregivers develop and implement care plans for their loved ones. The nurse provides ongoing assessment of the patient’s physical and mental health, living conditions and short and long-term needs.

This paid service is suited for caregivers who live out of the area, are balancing careers and families, in addition to caregiving responsibilities, or simply need help monitoring their loved one’s care. Many assisted-living facilities are restricting visitors due to COVID-19. Our nurses can still enter these facilities to monitor clients. For more information, call 850-878-0034.


This program offers free, non-medical assistance for individuals who have a life-limiting illness but are not eligible for Hospice. Trained volunteers provide companionship, respite care, assistance with errands and transportation. Although COVID-19 has limited in-house visits, our volunteers and social workers are calling clients weekly and working to meet their needs. This week, for example, we delivered toilet paper, cleaning supplies and other essentials to clients. For more information, call 850-671-6036.

 


Members of our Care Team are still making home visits, and we’re offering telehealth as a way for patients and families to connect to us remotely. In addition, the main Hospice number, where you can speak to someone 24/7, remains open. We’re happy to take your call and determine how we can help. Call 850-878-5310 or 800-772-5862.

These are just a few of the ways Hospice is serving caregivers now when they need us the most. Please call and tell us how we can assist you.

William Wertman, MSW, is the CEO and administrator of Big Bend Hospice. You can contact him at wewertman@bigbendhospice.org. Visit BigBendHospice.org to learn more.

 

 


April 6, 2020

Due to the fact that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (those who may have the virus and do not know it) can still transmit the novel coronavirus, the CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

This recommendation complements and does not replace the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, 30 Days to Slow the Spread, which remains the cornerstone of our national effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. CDC will make additional recommendations as the evidence regarding appropriate public health measures continues to develop.

Big Bend Hospice is still in need of homemade masks and disposable gowns. If you can sew, patterns for gowns and masks are available at:

Gown Pattern

Mask Pattern

If you have homemade masks or gowns to donate, contact Sharon Davidson at (850) 878-5310 or email sddavidson@bigbendhospice.org.


April 2, 2020

Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91, encouraging all persons to limited their movements and interactions outside of the home, with the exception of those providing essential services, or conducting essential activities.

Big Bend Hospice is an essential service and BBH, Inc. employees continue to work, providing care and comfort to our patients and families while they need it most.

To read the full order, visit: https://static-s3.lobbytools.com/docs/2020/4/1/120824_executive_order_20_91.pdf


April 1, 2020

Regulatory Flexibilities Announced

BBH continues our commitment to provide quality care at the end of life for patients-families in our service area during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Congress and the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have offered a number [of] regulatory flexibilities to hospice providers during the novel coronavirus pandemic through legislation and through emergency waivers. “The relief developed by CMS brings significant improvements that will help increase care access, reduce paperwork burdens, and provide greater options in delivery of care at home,” stated William A. Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. “The most valuable actions are expanded opportunities to combine telehealth services with in-person visits to patients, the suspension of burdensome claim review activities, and the waiver of some operational requirements that did not affect direct delivery of care. These changes will improve efficiencies and put patient care over paperwork.”

Though these actions are beneficial, additional considerations may be needed to help hospices function effectively during the pandemic. One of the principal concerns is the availability of supplies, including personal protective equipment for infection prevention and control. “Unless we have adequate protective equipment, we can’t make visits and we can’t safely provide care, which is why telehealth is even more important. CMS can’t create PPE. Congress can’t create PPE. But we’ve been clear with the administration that they have the authority to make sure that adequate PPE exists. That’s number one,” Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, told Hospice News.


March 27, 2020

In our continuing response to ensure the well-being of patients, their loved ones, volunteers and colleagues while honoring government rules and recommendations we have implemented new visitation policies at our Margaret Z. Dozier Hospice House (DH).

Visitations if the patient is NOT COVID-19 positive.

  • All guests entering the DH will have to pass the COVID-19 Survey, with temperature check, use of alcohol hand gel, and don a homemade facemask.
  • Social distancing with no hand-shaking or hugging, and remaining six feet apart is recommended.
  • Visitation will be limited to the patient’s suite only.
  • Anyone exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat that they think may be related to COVID-19) will not be permitted in the DH.
  • For non-imminent patients, visitors will be limited to 2 guest.  Upon Admission, the nurse will get the name of the 2 individuals who will be allowed entrance into the DH, to visit the patient, in the event that GIP or Respite care is needed.
  • If the patient is imminent, then additional visitors will be allowed to visit the patient on a case-by-case basis.


Visitation at DH if the patient if a patient becomes COVID-19 positive.

  • Discuss with the 2 caregivers the importance of not visiting the patient while at the DH. Remain mindful that the individual needs of the patient will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
  • If it is deemed to be in the patient’s best interest to receive the 2 predetermined visitors, these will be the only visitors allowed in to see the patient, throughout the duration of the DH stay.  They will comply with the same restrictions mentioned above.
  • Visitors will be taught to don and doff the appropriate PPE for visitation. The patient, if appropriate will wear a disposable surgical mask. The visitors will wear the homemade masks and other PPE as determined by current guidelines, at the time of the visit.


In the event that in-person visits cannot occur, consider:

  • Offering alternative means of communication for people who would otherwise visit, such as virtual communications (phone, video-communication, etc.)
  • Designated staff assigned to contact the 2 primary caregivers to keep them up to date.
  • Visitors may make visits from outside of the building, watching through the closed window, from the garden.