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The risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 has created challenges for health care providers who remain committed to providing quality care to patients.

"The challenge that we are facing, like everyone in healthcare, is to ensure we have the personl protective equipment to protect ourselves and others," said Carmen Altendorf, director of the Wellington Interim Healthcare office, in an email. "We have an inventory of our PPE that we keep updated daily, and have ordered more so we are prepared to care for our patients.“

PPE consists of masks, gloves, gowns and face shields when necessary.

Gina Wallace, LPN for Rivercross Hospice, said their visits to nursing homes have been cut down to one visit every 14 days in many nursing homes.

"Our social workers and chaplains cannot go in unless someone happens to be actively dying," Wallace said. "We understand why our nursing communities are putting the restrictions in place."

Wallace and Altendorf said their staff has to answer screening questions when they enter a facility and have their temperatures taken.

Altendorf said, "We are partners with the facility staff, and want to keep the staff and patients as safe as possible. So we are doing everything we can to be cautious and follow any rules they have in place.“

Wallace said when their workers go into a home, they always take the temperatures of those living there and ask them screening questions each visit.

Rivercross has "limited our visits because our home patients want to feel safe as well, and have been cautious about how often they allow us to visit," Wallace said.

Altendorf said, "Our social workers and chaplains have done visits by phone or Zoom to maintain contact with the patients and families.  For families, this is such a difficult time if they are not able to visit their loved one in the facility, so the support and communication from the hospice team is vital to them."

Altendorf and Wallace said they anticipate having to eventually care for patients with COVID-19.

"We will take all precautionary measures that are absolutely necessary to keep our staff safe while still caring for someone with this horrible illness," Wallace said.

Tanya Chancellor, hospice liaison for Rivercross, said providers are "boots on the ground" and available for patients 24/7.

Altendorf said, "The bottom line is we are in health care, and we will do everything possible to meet the needs of our community, and keep our staff safe and healthy."