FAQs about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Hospice
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a difficult and uncertain period for healthcare professionals, patients and families in communities around the country.
As the leading provider and trusted resource for end-of-life care, VITAS takes seriously its commitment to provide up-to-date, easy-to-understand information on the virus, its impact, and our evolving organizational response to the situation.
These frequently asked questions provide information about safety protocols for staff, patients, and families in our facilities and under our care.
As the situation changes and our handling of COVID-19 evolves, this FAQ will be updated to reflect the latest information available to us.
- Does VITAS accept patients who are positive with COVID-19? Our team members are trained and prepared to provide care should you refer a hospice-eligible patient who has COVID-19.
- Do hospice patients with known or suspected COVID-19 infection require hospitalization? COVID-19, like any other infection, requires an individualized approach to care.
- Will the VITAS care team help to relieve coronavirus symptoms in an infected patient? VITAS care teams are experts in managing symptoms commonly experienced near the end of life.
- Are elderly patients at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19? Older adults remain at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
- How will VITAS staff visit patients safely during the COVID-19 pandemic? VITAS staff will continue to adhere to established screening protocols to assess the risks of infection spread through each patient encounter.
- Are some hospice facilities closing or fully quarantined due to coronavirus? Each facility sets its own status based on state/local health department directions or their current situation.
What is VITAS doing to make sure patients are safe if they are getting hospice care in their homes during the coronavirus outbreak?
We are adhering to safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and state/local health departments.
- What are the considerations when caring for a hospice patient in their home during the coronavirus outbreak? During periods of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, family members and close friends continue to provide daily care. Caregivers should develop habits and strategies to maintain their own health and well-being. This helps to both limit viral transmission and to avoid the ever-present risk of caregiver burnout.
- Does VITAS test for COVID-19? For patients, VITAS follows the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CMS) and state/local health departments that are based upon many factors such as test availability, facility concerns, and the impact of a test result altering the care plan.
- During the coronavirus outbreak, can VITAS help with extra supply needs for patients and families—things like wipes, incontinence supplies, gloves, and face masks? As always, our team members will do whatever we can to meet the needs of our patients and families.
- Will VITAS team members care for patients in facilities that are not allowing families to visit due to coronavirus? Guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requests that facilities ensure residents receive the necessary end of life care, which includes hospice. This recommendation enables hospice staff to visit and care for patients in facilities.
- If a patient gets hospice care in a facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, can family members go into the facility with the VITAS team? VITAS team members will be following all guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and local and state health departments. VITAS is also following all facility-mandated visiting rules.
- Will your inpatient hospice units (IPUs) operate on limited hours or limit the number of visitors during the coronavirus outbreak? VITAS IPUs give care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. VITAS is incorporating guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to hospitals and nursing homes to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.
- Can a VITAS social worker or chaplain visit our loved one who is a patient during the coronavirus outbreak? VITAS team members—including doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, and bereavement specialists—are following all safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and state/local health departments. They are also following facility-mandated visiting rules.
- Are facilities where patients are getting hospice care requesting COVID-19 testing or laboratory results for patients who show symptoms? Decisions about COVID-19 testing within a facility are made by that facility, depending on the situation.
- Can I still volunteer for VITAS during the coronavirus pandemic? At VITAS, we are still actively recruiting volunteers. You can make a difference from the comfort of your home.