Written by: Danielle Wareham
VP of Clinical Compliance
COVID 19, no one ever expected what would happen or for us to be where we are today. I know if someone would have told me we would be in a global pandemic a year ago, and the world would be what it is today, I would have laughed because it is truly unbelievable, but here we are, living in a whole new world, one we never thought we would see. COVID has made a monumental impact on home health and hospice and how care is delivered. We now complete telephonic visits in addition to physicians completing telephonic and video visits. In the beginning, patients were scared and refusing to let nurses or therapists come into their homes, and elective surgeries were canceled to make room in the hospitals for the rise in COVID cases. Many patients were declining in their homes and were afraid to get the help or medical attention they needed in fear of the virus. Home health clinicians now ask a series of questions the night before visits to see if the patient has come in contact with anyone with COVID. They again ask those questions during their visits. Clinicians also wear masks during each visit to protect the patient, themselves, and other patients. At times home health clinicians wear full PPE to see patients that have been exposed or are ill. Properly donning and doffing this PPE can be challenging in the home health world as we travel from patient to patient, using our vehicles as a central workplace. However, we have become inventive to combat these challenging times, exposed or ill patients are saved till the end of the day, the clinicians have a clean and dirty section of their car, and they don and doff their PPE on patients’ porches or outside with trash bags. When the clinicians get home, there is another series of steps to prevent cross-contamination in their homes with their own families. Changing in the garage, bagging shoes, taking clothes straight to the laundry, and immediately showering are just a few things that clinicians are doing to prevent the spread to their own families. However, through these challenging times, home care and hospice clinicians continue to be resilient and flexible as the times change. The COVID journey is ever-changing, rules and regulations are modified from week to week, and it is up to clinicians and management to communicate those changes to keep everyone up to date. We wake up today in a new world, but that does not change our end goal. Keeping the patient safe, educated, and out of the hospital, and providing end of life care to our patients, Home health and hospice will continue to adapt to the ever-changing world of COVID 19 no matter what challenges may arise.