Program prevents COVID-19 hospice patients from dying alone

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Dealing with death has become especially difficult during the coronavirus crisis.

For many patients in hospice, the fear of dying alone is worse than the fear of getting the virus. A local health system has a program which provides comfort care for all – even during this pandemic.

90-year-old Irene Schofield, of Moosic, lived a full life before COVID-19 cut it short on April 9.

“She wasn’t even there 24 hours before she died,” Jerome Schofield, Irene’s husband, said.

Mrs. Schofield was admitted to Allied Services Hospice Center in Scranton the day before she died. Before that, she was in the hospital for a couple of weeks where her family couldn’t visit.

While some hospice programs are not accepting patients with COVID-19 or allowing family visits even if they do, that wasn’t the experience for Mrs. Schofield’s family. Her son was able to be by her side at the Allied Services facility.

“It means a lot. It means a lot because I know my wife would be afraid if she was by herself,” Mr. Schofield said.

“These people who were unfortunately impacted by this pandemic deserve the same dignity, love, and respect at the end of their life as anyone else,” Laura Marion, a registered nurse and Assistant Vice President of Allied Services Hospice & Palliative Programs, said.

To make that happen, Marion says strict safety guidelines are followed.

“As long as our staff knows that they have the proper personal protective equipment in accordance with the CDC and the Department of Health, we absolutely are making face to face visits,” Ms. Marion said.

COVID-19 positive patients are separated from the other hospice patients and sometimes the family visit is limited to an exchange near a window. But Marion says emotional support is especially important in a hospice patient’s final days and hours as was the case for the Schofield family.

“And I think that is a gift that I think will never be forgotten,” Ms. Marion said.

Click here to learn more about Allied Services Hospice and Palliative programs.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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