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National Hospice & Palliative Care Month: A Time of reflection

By Linda Darden

Since our inception in 1979, Trellis Supportive Care (formerly Hospice & Palliative CareCenter) has grown to meet community needs and has benefited from generous supporters and advocates. In a year that has seen more than its share of challenges, we have experienced extraordinary community support, and our team has been unwavering in our commitment to provide care, every day, to nearly 575 patients and families throughout our region. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we adopted the motto — COVID Can’t Stop Compassion.

Under the direction of our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Lalor, we assembled a COVID Response Team (CRT) to navigate our organization through these challenging times. At the forefront of every decision we make is the safety of our patients, families, staff, and community. It has been inspiring to witness frontline healthcare heroes across the globe and I’m extremely proud of our very own clinical care teams for embracing the necessary changes, donning the PPE, and finding every way possible to provide meaningful and effective ways to provide care and connect with those we serve. What has been most heartwarming, as the leader of this organization, is seeing the sincere desire among our entire team — under any and all circumstances — to improve the quality of life for those we serve.

Linda Darden is president and CEO of Trellis Supportive Care.

November is National Hospice & Palliative Care Month — a time when hospices across the country join together to raise awareness about the highest quality care provided for all people facing the physical and emotional challenges of an advanced illness. As we observe this month, I can’t help but reflect on the additional burdens that our patients and families have experienced due to the pandemic. In many cases family members are unable to be present with an ailing loved one either due to healthcare facility visitation limitations or travel restrictions. Those who are grieving the loss of a loved one may feel the additional strain of anxiety, and may not be able to fully honor their loved one with normal rituals and memorial services. To state the obvious — loss is always heartbreaking but it’s magnified in the midst of a pandemic.

With compassion driving us, our goal remains — to bring comfort and peace of mind to both patients and families. While nothing replaces a hug, we are utilizing new ways of connecting, virtually, helping families stay in close contact and present with their loved ones. Our team, masked and gowned, continue to provide our patients with comfort and personal care. And we have created supportive resources available on our website to help all people navigate the stresses and feelings of anxiety and isolation this pandemic has created. I’m proud of how our team remains true to our mission despite these challenges.

Over the many years we have been providing care, we have long noted that the best outcomes for families occur when everyone understands and honors a patient’s wishes. This has become particularly true when family travel and bedside conversations are more difficult. These are just a few reasons we encourage you to talk with your family and trusted advisors about the care you would want, before you need it, so that you’ll know where to turn if diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. In this holiday season, this is a simple way to give the gift of peace of mind to your family.

In closing, please know that our support extends well beyond those we serve in our palliative and hospice program. It extends to our grief counseling and our guidance with advance care planning. In addition, our gifted human services staff have created supportive resources to help all people navigate the stresses and feelings of anxiety and isolation this pandemic has created. Please visit the many resources on our website and take some time for self-care.

Linda Darden is president and CEO of Trellis Supportive Care.