Hospice industry working to adapt to unique COVID-19 situations

Hospice industry working to adapt to unique COVID-19 situations

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - COVID-19 has changed the way many industries operate. In Lufkin, Hospice in the Pines employees are trying to navigate through the pandemic, which has affected their work environment and families involved have been affected.

Nurse Debby Allen says COVID-19 may have a lasting impact on the hospice industry.

“I do admissions, so I’m the one that usually first sees the COVID patients and see what their oxygen levels are and what the decline was. With COVID being different from the other terminal illnesses, it is quick. It hits people out of the blue, even a lot of younger people,” Allen explained.

Due to COVID-19, Hospice in the Pines has experienced a staff shortage since December.

‘Everyone is going to grieve differently. A part of what we are trying to do is create that environment where staff members, our volunteers ... it is a place where they can express their feelings,” said Claudia Guzman, the employee relations Director.

Guzman says they are introducing a Bereavement in the Workplace program, a 13-month bereavement program, by which staff members can reach out to families by phone or send a card to help them cope.

“I think the thing that COVID has mostly changed is that so many families do not know what their family members wishes are until we get into the situation and then they feel so guilty having to make that decision,” Allen said.

“It is very important, during these times more than ever, for families to seek out and look at who they want their power of attorney to be, to make their wishes,” Guzman added. “Go ahead and identify those needs with their families, so that when things like this do happen, then they are prepared.”

Allen says seeing how hard COVID-19 has affected people can take a toll on your mental health, as well.

“It is difficult when everyone wants to be with their loved ones when they pass, but with all the restrictions we cannot do that anymore. We try to make sure that we do FaceTime calls, so they can see their family members and talk to them. That way they know that they are not alone,” Allen said.

About 30 Hospice in the Pines employees were vaccinated a week before the new year began.

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