COVID-19 has brought heartbreaking challenges to every corner of every community, limiting our contact with those we love, and sending many into a spiral of isolation and loneliness.
It has been especially tragic for fragile hospice and palliative care patients whose contact with loved ones has been reduced to phone calls and conversations through glass doors.
When the highly contagious coronavirus threatened to halt visits between the Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care medical team and their patients, Harbor staff quickly launched a state-of-the art tele-health program so they can have “virtual” conversations with their patients, as personal and face-to-face as if they are in the same room together.
Dr. Gerald Harriman, DO, medical director for Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care, had his first tele-health conversations with patients on March 27 and enthusiastically reported, “…they love it!”
Patients use their own smart phone, tablet or laptop with a camera. For patients without a device, Harbor Hospice provided easy-to-use tablets, a major purchase funded, in part, by an emergency grant of $7,500 from the Foundation. The tablets have made it possible for patients to have virtual visits with family and friends they have been missing, too, and enabled tender face-to-face long-distance goodbyes.
The Foundation’s grant was also critical in getting Harbor Tele-Health online quickly and to expand its use for hospice and palliative care patients in rural areas where long drive times have made it difficult for patients and medical staff to meet in person.
“We are tremendously grateful for the swift and generous support of the Foundation,” says Dr. Harriman. “This grant is supporting our patients’ health and wellbeing and making it possible for us to help those who used to be beyond our geographic reach.”