Deb Amato, LSW, Sue Bowden-Duffy, RN Lisa Kirk, Chaplain outside Lafayette Rehab in Marblehead

Marblehead, MA- The pandemic has brought us a “new normal,” especially when it comes to healthcare.  Visiting loved ones in the hospital or health care facilities is not an option right now, and this somber reality has created a variety of new challenges. The All Care VNA and Hospice staff has had to create new protocols and develop new ways to visit, engage, and connect with their patients.

Many of All Care Hospice’s patients are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, both of which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus. With the restrictions in place, it has been an obstacle, but our staff have found ways to work around it while continuing to provide high-quality care to their patients on a case-by-case basis.  

Marie, a 74 yr. old who resides at Lafayette Rehabilitation in Marblehead, has received VNA and Private Care services from All Care since 2013. This past fall, Marie transitioned to hospice care.  She has no immediate family members around her, so the All Care Hospice team, made up of Sue Bowden-Duffy, RN, Deb Amato, LCSW, and Lisa Kirke, Hospice Chaplain, along with the staff at Lafayette, have become her family and her lifeline.   

Sue, the team lead, has typically visited Marie in person twice a week, and the others bi-weekly. With all that has been going on, Marie’s spirits have understandably been down, and her anxiety has heightened.  Worried for her health, Sue spoke with the team and staff at Lafayette to come up with a plan.  Everyone agreed it was best to continue visits and to provide as much normalcy as possible.  Sue said, “nobody has been untouched by this and I can’t imagine not being able to be there to offer support for someone.”

On April 23rd, I had the privilege of observing one of these visits with Marie. A Lafayette nurse brought Marie to the window while Sue, Deb, and Lisa stood outside holding hand-written signs that read “We Miss You.” The nurse called Sue on her cell phone so the patient was able to speak to her and the other members of the team. They tried to provide comfort, solace, and reassurance to Marie during this difficult time. To witness this meeting was heartwarming and Marie’s spirits were clearly lifted. Lafayette’s Lisa Biggio, LSW, and Marie’s liaison said they “love working with All Care” and “value their long-term partnership.”   

The term “health care heroes” has been used a lot lately and after seeing this wonderful group of people go above and beyond for a patient, I truly understand why.