Delaware Hospice announced April 13 it is expanding its telehealth visits to patients and clients, keeping staff, patients and families safe without interruptions of care.

Physicians, hospice nurses, palliative nurse practitioners, social workers, chaplains and bereavement, including children’s bereavement counselors, are able to use the telehealth system.

“This was an initiative that we laid the groundwork for earlier this year before COVID-19 became an issue,” said Rob Whitfield, director of information technology, Delaware Hospice. “With the pandemic we have escalated our efforts, especially given the recent allowance by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for increasing telehealth services.”

“As a leader in our community’s healthcare, we always want to offer the maximum options when it comes to providing the highest quality services to our patients and clients no matter where they are located,” said Deb Kent, vice president of clinical services, Delaware Hospice. “Our primary goal for using telehealth is to utilize technology as a means to provide much more immediate response to patient and family needs. A quicker response to symptoms, anxieties and caregiving questions equates to higher quality care; patients and caregivers are more comfortable and less fearful.”

At this time, Delaware Hospice’s telehealth program primarily relies on the technology devices and access of the patient, patient’s family/caregiver infrastructure. As a community nonprofit hospice and palliative agency, Delaware Hospice has a limited number of technology devices allocated specifically for this program. Delaware Hospice’s intention was to increase slowly available devices for families to use. With the need quickly changing, Delaware Hospice has been closely working with local, state and national organizations and agencies to receive additional resources.

“The use of technology does not take the place of in-home visits when in-person is what is appropriate,” said Kent. “Telehealth is an adjunct option. Albeit an option that is critical during this public health emergency and our goal to keep patients, families and staff safe.”

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