COVID-19: Volunteers Continue To Make a Difference
When the COVID-19 pandemic was at the crest of its initial wave, when PPE was nearly impossible to find, when knowledge about how the virus was transmitted was still hard to pin down, when hospice volunteers were sent home for their own safety as well as that of hospice patients and their in-home caregivers, talented Ohio’s Hospice volunteers all across the state stepped up and delivered the most precious of timely gifts: homemade face masks, gowns and visors to keep patients, their loved ones, and Ohio’s Hospice staff safe and well protected.
“Our volunteers have proven their ingenuity and resiliency time and again throughout the pandemic,” notes Ohio’s Hospice of Central Ohio’s Sparks.
Volunteers who normally were devoted to visiting patients in person at the bedside began to check in with patients regularly by phone or even by video calls. Many wrote cards and letters not just for hospice patients but all those residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities feeling the loss of routine, visits from loved ones, and socializing with friends and neighbors.
The pandemic canceled the traditional volunteer appreciation luncheons and gatherings associated with National Volunteer Week in April. But that didn’t stop Ohio’s Hospice from finding new ways to thank its hundreds of volunteers across the state. Staff, for example, staged appreciation events during which volunteers drove into their local Ohio’s Hospice office parking lot to be greeted by a socially distanced, sign-holding cheering section of hospice staff members and then picked a goodie bag stuffed with small gifts, treats, thank-you cards and other fun items.
Volunteers are an integral part of American Pride® Veteran Care by Ohio’s Hospice, a program that honors the service of Veteran patients and assures them of receiving the highest quality of care. In addition to celebrating and thanking Veterans for their service, American Pride assists patients in obtaining access to all the benefits to which Veterans are eligible, provides spiritual support and addresses individual post-traumatic stress issues.
In pre-pandemic times, Veteran or active-duty volunteers would visit hospice patients who are Veterans and honor them with a brief ceremony that would include a hand salute, certificate of appreciation and a pinning as well as other meaningful tributes, according to American Pride Program Coordinator Bob Allen, a retired U.S. Army captain. Allen adapted the presentation to allow for a Veteran volunteer to conduct the ceremony by telephone or video call while an Ohio’s Hospice staff member in full PPE was at the patient’s side to present the pin, certificate and other mementos.
It is an experience that is equally moving for patients and their loved ones, Allen notes. And something Ohio’s Hospice American Pride volunteers are eager to resume in person when the all-clear signal is given.