Community’s response to COVID-19

Are homemade masks safe?
According to the CDC, as a last resort healthcare providers may use homemade masks to care for COVID-19 patients in settings where FDA-cleared surgical face masks are not available. CDC coronavirus and masks.
Can I visit a patient at one of your hospice care centers?

As much as possible, we are caring for patients in their homes. Of course we will continue to care for patients if they need to be admitted to our hospice care center. Hospice care center visitors are limited to two patients at any time.

All visitors must:

  • fill out a screening form
  • pass a body temperature test
  • sanitize their hands upon entry and exit.

Family or friends may visit patients in the hospice care center if they:

  • are completely healthy and free of any signs/symptoms of the flu
  • have NOT traveled internationally in the last 14 days
  • have NOT had contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, under investigation for COVID-19, or is ill with a respiratory illness including a fever in the last 14 days
  • have parental permission to enter if under 16 years of age
  • restrict their visit to the patient’s room and marked areas only
  • use hand sanitizer, social distancing, and limit their visit time if possible.

When the patient is actively dying, an exception can be made for infected or possibly-infected visitors. This depends on having personal protective equipment available to give to ill visitors. Other accommodations like live video calls can be made if someone is not allowed to enter our facility.

We understand the hardship this visitor policy places on families. We are anxious to allow all visitors again when things return to normal. The best way to get back to normal is to adhere to all social distancing orders.

Are you admitting COVID-19 patients to your hospice care centers?
Yes, we are admitting COVID-19 patients to our centers in Vancouver and Longview. We have 2 negative air flow rooms in each center (4 rooms total). A negative air flow room is a special room that vents air directly to the outside of the building. This means airborne particles are vented outdoors rather than recirculating through the building which decreases risk to our staff and visitors.
Will you limit the number of COVID-19 patients you accept?

We will continue to admit infectious patients in our Home Health and Hospice programs depending on the availability of:

  • protective equipment like masks and gowns. As you’ve heard in the news, these are in very short supply nationwide.
  • our two negative air flow rooms in our Vancouver and Longview hospice care centers. We can safely accept two patients at a time in each of the care centers.
  • We are committed to keeping our staff safe and on-the-job which the public can ensure by heeding all social distancing orders.

Are you prepared to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients?
The outbreak WILL lead to an increased number of patients. While there isn’t a limit on our clinicians’ know-how or bravery, we DO have a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). We need our government to RAPIDLY produce and distribute PPE like masks, gowns, face shields, goggles, and shoe covers.
Is Community prepared to fight COVID-19?

We have taken the following measures to prepare for COVID-19:

  • established an Infection Control Team to manage our response, education, and activities based on the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), community healthcare partners, and governing bodies
  • put CDC-recommended infection control practices in place
  • equipped our staff to prevent and isolate infections
  • 4 negative air flow rooms in our hospice care centers in Vancouver and Longview (2 rooms per center).
  • cancelled all public events until further notice
  • implemented telecommuting by non-clinical staff, whenever possible.

Where would COVID-19 patients be kept?
We have 2 isolation rooms in each of our Longview and Vancouver care centers. That is 4 total. An isolation room is a special room that vents air directly to the outside of the building. Airborne particles are vented outdoors rather than recirculating through the building, posing less risk to our staff and visitors. Highly infectious patients like those with COVID-19 and other highly infectious diseases are placed routinely in rooms like this.
Are you testing your current patients?
We do not have access to testing currently. We are relying on our healthcare partners to test patients and staff and to tell us the infection status of patients they refer to us.
Are you testing your staff?
We do not have access to testing currently. We are relying on our healthcare partners to test our staff, and in this case that means their healthcare provider. We are strongly advocating they be a top priority for testing since our staff are on the front lines of this pandemic.
Do you have an infection specialist on staff?
All of our clinical staff are infection-trained. This is a requirement of employment, as well as a condition of our licensure and accreditation. Each infection risk has its own set of protocols for isolation, and we have reinforced to our clinical staff how to stay safe from COVID-19.
Can I visit my family member who is a patient at one of your care centers?

All visitors are required to fill out a screening form and to sanitize their hands.

We are allowing family or friends to enter if:

  • They are free of any signs/symptoms of the flu. All visitors must be completely healthy.
  • They have not traveled internationally in the past 14 days
  • In the last 14 days, they have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, under investigation for COVID-19, or is ill with a respiratory illness including a fever.
  • Have parental permission if under 16 years of age.
  • They restrict their visit to the patient room and marked areas only, and they keep their visit as brief as possible.
  • Four healthy, non-infectious visitors per patient will be allowed inside the building at any given time. This is to prevent risk of infection to you and others, and to ease the burdens on our staff during this time.
  • Visitors must pass a body temperature test.
  • An exception to our restrictions on infected or possibly-infected visitors can be made at end of life (patient is actively dying). This is contingent on having available PPE to give to the visitor.
  • Per Medicare guidelines, patients in isolation for COVID-19 will be able to have one visitor at end of life. The visitor must be free of all flu or flu-like symptoms.

However, if someone is not allowed to enter our facility, we are making other accommodations. We have hardware and networks in place for live video calls. Individuals allowed to enter are asked to fill out a screening form and to sanitize their hands.

If you are caring for someone with COVID-19, will they be allowed visits from individuals who pass screening?
Yes, under the following conditions: 1) They have not had contact with the patient for the past 14 days, and 2) we have available personal protective equipment to give them during their visit—gloves, masks, googles.
What precautions are your in-home care staff taking?
Much like our hospice care center staff, our healthy and non-symptomatic in-home care staff will continue to visit and care for patients showing flu and flu-like symptoms. We have taken time to reinforce our protocols around managing patients with flu-like symptoms. Home visits may need to be limited to conserve personal protective equipment whenever possible.

Our main goal for patients at home is to keep them at home, which is the safest place to remain free of infection or to recover from an infection. We are encouraging our home patients to not refuse visits from our staff because doing so will risk re-hospitalization. Right now we need to keep patients OUT of the hospitals whenever possible.

How can I help?

  • Contribute to our Donate to COVID-19 Assistance Fund to help us purchase critical supplies like masks and gowns for our staff. The fund will also provide financial help to staff who face hardships from loss of income and need help with expenses like child care and utility bills.
  • Join the Community Sewing Brigade to sew masks, gowns, and other protective equipment for our agency.

Many thanks to our friends at the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington for donating $25,000 to this fund, to Friends of Hospice Southwest Washington for donating $10,000, and to many other community members who are expressing support through their donations. Each dollar raised helps us buy critically-needed PPE that will keep our staff and community safe from the virus!


Do you have a question that is not listed here? Email info@chhh.org.

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