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Hospice care during COVID

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By Nick Seebruch
Hospice care during COVID
Maureen Froats, RN at Carefor Hospice Cornwall.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Maureen Froats is a Registered Nurse (RN) with 34 years of experience. For the last five years she has been working at Carefor Hospice Cornwall, and she says they have been some of the best years of her career, but she has noticed some changes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, there have been changes at Hospice made both for the safety of staff, visitors, and patients.

“We have always been very hands on with our care,” said Froats. “Having to keep our distance and wear masks takes away that personal touch. There is a difference.”

Froats explained that clinical staff members are provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gowns and masks.

Volunteers are not being allowed in the building, and the number of visitors have been limited.

Froats explained the special difficulty that not having visitors has not just on the patients, but also on the families.
“We don’t treat just the patients here, but the family as well, but now patients are only allowed one visitor at a time,” she said.

She explained that those patients who are in imminent end-of-life care are allowed to have up to two visitors, and that Hospice tries to fill the gap with phone calls, Face Time on smartphones and other electronic devices, and allowing visitors to come to the window.

“It is not the same, but it is the best we can do,” she said.

Jason Samson, Director of Operations, Eastern Counties Carefor Health & Community Services explained that it was Carefor’s priority to ensure their staff had the PPE that they needed. Samson went on to explain that the real balancing act for Hospice is between providing support, and providing safety.

“It would be unfortunate if things moved too fast and we had to roll them back again,” he said.

That being said, Samson does hope to be able to bring back some volunteer, and family based programs like their bereaved support group.

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Jenni MacDonald, Dominion Lending, Cornwall, Ontario