Volunteer Hospice changes include expanded services

Support groups move to online platform

PORT ANGELES — The COVID-19 epidemic hasn’t stopped Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County from caring for the terminally ill at no cost to the patient.

But it has changed how that care is given.

Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County (VHOCC) officials have adapted to guidelines as it is deemed as necessary and prudent to minimize the risk of virus transmission, but they want to assure the public that it is still operating and has added new services.

Among them is an online grief support group, which — if enough people register by this coming Tuesday — will begin Tuesday, April 28, and run weekly on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. until June 9.

Call 360-406-4439 for more information on this online group.

Individual support continues to be available by phone only to any member of the public.

“VHOCC is committed to continue to serve the bereaved, especially at this time when family and loved ones cannot physically be present,” the agency said in a press release.

“The sorrow of losing a loved one can be accentuated by the isolation felt due to the travel directives and physical distancing in place.”

The agency also is accepting new patients now.

Other changes are:

• Office. Although not physically accessible by the public, the VHOCC office is operating as normal and can be reached between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 360-452-1511 or emailing office@vhocc.org.

Hospice services. Hospice services are provided as usual for both current and new patients.

Nurses continue to make clinical visits to patient homes while taking precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission per the latest local public health and CDC guidelines.

Services have been expanded to include medication pickup and other support such as delivering groceries for the most vulnerable patients.

Spiritual care. Given changes in funeral home policies and limitations on holding memorial and funeral services, volunteer spiritual care providers have been mobilized to support patients and their families at end of life.

Spiritual care can be offered via phone to families near or at the time of death of a hospice patient.

Lending closet. VHOCC has temporarily suspended lending equipment to the public to reduce the potential of virus transmission.

However, volunteers continue to deliver medical equipment to hospice patients.

VHOCC also will assess on a case by case basis the feasibility of delivering essential medical equipment to members of the public.

Borrowed equipment should be held onto until the Port Angeles office reopens to the public.

Volunteers — The agency is issuing a call for more volunteers.

Many long-serving, dedicated volunteers who are at high-risk for COVID-19 have been asked to stay home.

VHOCC is recruiting new volunteers to help with essential services, especially in the area of deliveries and grief support by phone.

Those who wish to volunteer while staying at home are urged to undertake the sewing of masks and gowns.

Any extra elastic one may have tucked away in their sewing bin could be put to good use by VHOCC.

Those who can help in any way are asked to call the volunteer services manager at 360-452-1511 or email vsm@vhocc.org.

“As we all adjust to the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, VHOCC hopes your family and all your loved ones are safe and staying home,” the agency said.

“Individuals and families who are already in the midst of an end-of-life journey and now facing greater uncertainty in these unprecedented times, are encouraged to reach out to VHOCC. The organization remains committed to providing compassionate care on all levels and in all ways possible.”

Volunteer Hospice provides free care to those who are terminally ill and their families. It operates on donations.

To learn more, visit VHOCC.org, VHOCC on Facebook, or call 360-452-1511.

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