Hospice in the Year of COVID-19

Every part of medicine has seen disruption in this past year and we have all had change forced upon us. In hospice we have struggled with our patients dying alone, the family frustrations of not being able to see their loved ones at end of life which is complicating their grief process. Many of our team members have been very removed from their ability to reach patients and this has added to the Hospice Team’s stress.

We have seen an increase in the number of admissions, but our census has stayed about the same as many more patients are passing away in their first week on Hospice. This churning of patients has also added to the stress of our teams and further inhibited their ability to develop the usual healing relationships with patients and their families.

For the average hospice about 28% of their patients pass away in the first week. For Sutter, our traditional number is 33%, in this past year it has exceeded 40% frequently.

We are happy to see the numbers dropping and knowing that the highest risk patients have had vaccines should help prevent that from recurring any time soon.

We have all improved our use of Technology to communicate with Skype, Web Ex, Zoom, etc, but we all miss the human to human contact of the team and our patients.

Michael Blanchard, MD
Senior Hospice Medical Director
Sutter Care at Home, Hospice
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