COVID-19 Updates and Community Resources

Montgomery Hospice, Inc. continues to support patients and families in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties with exceptional end-of-life care, grief support, and education. We have been serving this community since 1981, and we are here for you.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many unprecedented challenges to our lives. At Montgomery Hospice and Prince George’s Hospice, we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide the highest quality medical care to our patients—in their homes or at Casey House.

In response to the pandemic, we have put in place extensive measures to keep our patients, families and staff safe. This includes purchasing much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including masks, gowns, gloves, deep cleaning of our office and increasing our technology platforms for secure virtual communication.

During these challenging times, we often look for sources of strength and resilience to help us navigate the unknown of this pandemic. We would like to provide you with organization updates and resources to support you and your loved ones during these moments of stress and anxiety.

The following guidance of many professionals brings – at a time like this – practical and timely advice and words of comfort to our community. We also welcome your support during this challenging time. Community support helps to ease the financial burden of unanticipated, but necessary, costs due to the pandemic.

Our Hospice Care During COVID-19

We continue to serve our patients through in-person visits. If preferable, we are also able to conduct telehealth visits. Below are some frequently asked questions about our hospice care during the pandemic:

Yes, we are providing hospice care during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to provide in-person visits that follow strict protection protocols, and we also offer telehealth visits.
  • Doing careful screening of all patients, household members, and staff prior to in-person visits
  • During in-person visits, requiring that all household members in the room wear a face mask covering their mouth and nose
  • Ensuring proper use of personal protection equipment when appropriate
  • Utilizing telehealth services for routine visits when possible

Yes, we utilize telehealth services for routine visits when possible. Telehealth helps us provide safe, expert care when needed, or if the patient or family prefers.

Yes, hospice care is available for patients at facilities, with certain precautions and requirements. Each facility follows their own set of procedures, and our staff confers with facility staff to determine the safest way to provide hospice care within the facility’s procedures.

Yes, Casey House is open, and we continue to care for patients and their families. To ensure the safety of our patients, their families, and our staff at Casey House, we maintain Visiting Guidelines for Casey House, and we follow strict protection protocols specific to our in-patient facility.

Safety Protocols & Visit Guidelines

As of 11/12/2020
With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the communities we serve, we are enforcing the following steps effective immediately for the safety of our employees, our patients and their families, and our community.

  1. Utilizing telehealth services for routine visits when possible.
  2. Careful screening of all patients and household members prior to in-person visits.
  3. During in-person visits, requiring that all household members in the room wear a face mask covering their mouth and nose.

Our clinical and administrative staff continue to follow a strict protection protocol that includes:

  • Constant communication with CDC and Department of Health departments and strict adherence of recommendations
  • Screening of patients and visitors for acute respiratory illness or common signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Screening of patients and visitors with prior travel
  • Ensuring proper use of personal protection equipment when appropriate
  • Limiting visits to patients from team members – as needed
  • Asking patients to limit their outside visitors
  • Making sure that patients have the necessary amounts of medicine and supplies
  • Making sure that patients receive the least amount of deliveries from providers

A comprehensive overview of our screening process and visiting guidelines for Hospice at Home patients in light of concerns regarding COVID-19:

PRE-VISIT SCREENING:

Montgomery Hospice and Prince George’s Hospice staff will conduct a screening call before making an in-person visit. The following screening questions will be asked prior to providing care:

  • In the past 14 days, have you or anyone in your home/facility had close contact with anyone diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19?
  • Have you or anyone in your home/facility been to a large gathering where masks were not in use or social distancing was not possible?
  • Do you or anyone in your home/facility have any signs or symptoms associated with COVID-19 including: sore throat, cough, fever, or shortness of breath? Fatigue? Muscle or body aches? Headaches? New loss of smell or taste? Congestion/Runny Nose? Nausea/Vomiting, Diarrhea?

VISIT PROTOCOLS:

While our staff is in the patient’s room for their visit, we request that presence in the patient’s room is kept to a minimum, with safety precautions established. This includes:

  • Maintaining a distance of 6 feet from staff
  • Wearing a mask or some type of cloth covering over your nose and mouth

Thank you so much for your understanding and support as we navigate this public health pandemic, and work to ensure the safety of our patients, families, community members, and staff.

A comprehensive overview of our visiting guidelines and safety precautions for Casey House in light of concerns regarding COVID-19:

In light of concerns regarding COVID-19, we are following the updated recommendations from the Maryland Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the health and safety of our patients and the community.

At this time, we are taking the following steps:

  • Requiring that all visitors wear a mask at all times (including inside patient’s room) and maintain social distances of 6 ft from staff and other visitors.
  • 4 visitors at a time in facility, per patient.
  • Only 1 visitor can stay overnight in the patient’s room. Visitor must be inside Casey House by 8 pm. No in/out building access after.
  • Children ages 5 and older can visit at this time.
  • Requiring all individuals entering the building to sanitize their hands at entry, and frequently throughout their stay.
  • Requesting that all visitors remain in the room of the patient they are visiting and use patient’s restroom.
  • Requesting that no visitor enter the facility if sick.
  • Visiting hours daily, from 8 am – 8 pm.

Thank you so much for your understanding and support as we navigate this public health pandemic, and work to ensure the safety of our patients, families, community members, and staff.

The following notice includes our strict protection protocol for clinical and administrative staff, updates from our Piccard Office, Casey House, and Center for Learning, as well as tips to protect against illness:

As a healthcare provider and member of the community, Montgomery Hospice and Prince George’s Hospice holds the safety and trust of the patients we serve, their families, and our staff as our highest priority.

In light of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus in Maryland, we remain committed to following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal, State, and local Health Departments to ensure we are taking comprehensive and appropriate actions when needed.

At present, our clinical and administrative staff follow a strict protection protocol that includes:

  • Constant communication with CDC and Department of Health departments and strict adherence of recommendations
  • Continuing our steady practice of handwashing for 20 seconds
  • Screening of patients and visitors for acute respiratory illness
  • Screening of patients and visitors with prior travel in critical countries
  • Ensuring proper use of personal protection equipment when appropriate
  • Requiring sick employees to stay home
  • Additional communications reminding our staff and contracted services to share BIG SMILES and not handshakes, fist bumps, or hugs

This protocol will also include:

  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing of handrails, door handles, surfaces and common areas
  • Offering flexible time so employees who are unwell can continue to work from home
  • Offering opportunities for employees to stay home if a member of their family is sick
  • Consider other methods of communication and meeting to avoid close contact
  • Limiting unnecessary visits to patients from team members
  • Asking patients to limit their outside visitors
  • Making sure that patients have the necessary amounts of medicine and supplies
  • Making sure that patients receive the least amount of deliveries from providers

At Piccard Office and Casey House:

  • Proper screening and recording of names and contact details of visitors for at least one month. This is for the purpose of helping public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 if somebody becomes ill shortly after their visit.

The Center for Learning and Outreach:

  • All the face-to-face programs will be provided online until further notice.
  • In collaboration with our community partners, we will postpone, change venue, or cancel educational programs, participation in health fairs and outreach events if needed. We will keep monitoring latest developments to reassess bi-weekly.
  • Continue communication about events and programs with participants and speakers
  • If programs are kept at the request of a partner, we will ensure that our staff is aware of their prevention plan and strictly follow the best practices implemented at the facility.

While we continue to care for our patients and their families, this is what you can do to prevent getting sick:

  1. Wash your hands frequently for about 20 seconds with soap and water. Although there is a shortage of alcohol base hand sanitizers in store, please remember that SOAP and WATER is still THE BEST DEFENSE to the virus.
  2. Cough or sneeze on your elbow or tissue, not your hands (dispose of the tissue afterwards and wash your hands)
  3. Do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
  4. Avoid crowded places
  5. Stay home if you are sick
  6. If you have symptoms like fever, cough or shortness of breath, seek medical attention but call first.
  7. Stay informed of the latest information
  8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily

CDC has published a website with the latest information. You can visit at:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html

We are partners in prevention and we will continue to collaborate with our community
to protect the wellbeing of those we serve.

What You Can Do

Older adults (age 65+) and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for serious illness, and in some cases death, if they become infected with COVID-19. Examples of preexisting medical conditions include: lung disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions that impact the immune system’s ability to fight germs. If you are an older adult and/or you have one or more chronic health conditions, you can take action to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Wear a mask when outside your home or around people you do not live with.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 70 % alcohol content.
  • Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an ade­quate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed
  • Have an adequate supply of non-prescriptive drugs and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines
  • Have enough household items, groceries, and water on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home
  • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, so­cial or commercial networks if you are forced to stay home for longer than your supplies allow
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email; you may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick
  • Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick

Use commercial cleaning products to wipe high-touch points often, includ­ing:

  • Canes, walker grips, wheelchair arms, push handles, and brake handles
  • Handrails and commode chair handrails, faucets, doorknobs, and refrigerator handles
  • Reacher/grabber handles and pill boxes
  • Telephones, remotes, and light switches
  • Know what medications your older loved one is taking, and contact them to ask if they need refills or an extended supply of medication
  • Check in with any older friends or family members regularly by email or phone to see if they need assistance (food, water or other supplies)
  • If a loved one is living in a care facility, monitor the situation — ask the facility about its protocol if there is an outbreak, and about the health of other residents.

Many state and local health department websites maintain updates on case counts and statistics in their communities. Additionally, there is a tracker through Johns Hopkins University. Here are three related to the communities we serve:

  • Stay home, and limit the areas in which you move within your home. Creating a quarantine bubble separate from other members of your household will be helpful to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Use separate items and facilities, and clean those areas often.
  • Continue to take the preventative measures listed above. More detailed instructions are available here (via CDC).
  • Stay home and quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19
  • Look out for symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and more. Symptoms may not start immediately or within the first few days – continue to monitor for the 2 weeks after contact.
  • Limit your exposure to others, including those who live with you, and especially people more vulnerable to symptom complication.

How You Can Help

Contributions from the community enable us to not only purchase necessary PPE and upgraded technology platforms, but they also allow us to respond to the increased need for Grief Support during this time of heightened stress. Due to the impacts of the pandemic, individuals grieving need more support than usual, since many at this time have grief complicated by isolation resulting from limited social interactions with family and friends or access to traditional rituals of mourning.

If you would like to help us meet the needs of our patients, their loved ones and the community, we welcome you to make a gift today. Your contribution—regardless of amount—will help to ensure our ability to be there for those who are grieving, as well as defray the unanticipated expenses of our new safety measures.

Together, we will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors and friends during an especially challenging time.

COVID-19 Vaccine

After a thorough research and review process, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 have been granted emergency authorization for distribution by the FDA. As a community, we have heard about and started to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. When getting your shots, you may experience some pain or side effects, which is a common reaction of your body building immunity and protection; the side effects may last a few days. Below are some frequently asked questions about the vaccine:

Localized, at the shot location

General

Redness Fever
Pain Chills
Swelling Fatigue, body aches
Headache

For localized pain, near shot location

For discomfort from general side effects and fever

Apply a cool washcloth or ice pack over area Drink fluids consistently
Gently move or exercise the arm Get plenty of rest
Dress warmly (for chills) or lightly (for fever)

In most cases, discomfort from the shot’s side effects – such as fever and localized pain – is common.

  • If the redness or tenderness near your shot increases after 24 hours
  • If your side effects have not gone away after a few days
  • If you are concerned about your side effects or are having a severe reaction

In Maryland, each county has their own system and information regarding vaccine distribution. You can use the links below to find out about your area’s process:

At this time, most COVID-19 vaccines require 2 shots for effectiveness. With any vaccination, it takes time for the body to build immunity and protection after receiving the shots. The COVID-19 vaccines may not protect you until 1-2 weeks after your second shot. It is imperative that we continue to limit the spread of the virus through mask-wearing, social distancing at least 6 feet, and washing hands frequently – even if you are vaccinated.

Additional Resources

Resources

Advance Care Planning

Resources to assist you with advance care planning, especially now during COVID-19.

All households should:

  • Clean hands at the door and at regular intervals
  • Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their face and cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and handrails regularly
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • Wash hands after putting away groceries, touching money, or handling anything that comes from outside the home
  • Always ask anyone entering your home to keep a face mask on, and to wash their hands upon entry

Households with vulnerable seniors or those with significant underlying conditions:
Significant underlying conditions include heart, lung, kidney disease; diabetes; and conditions that suppress the immune system.

  • Have the healthy people in the household conduct themselves as if they were a significant risk to the person with underlying conditions. For example, wash hands frequently before interacting with the person, such as by feeding or caring for the person
  • If possible, provide a protected space for vulnerable household members
  • Ensure all utensils and surfaces are cleaned regularly

Households with sick family members:

  • Give sick members their own room if possible, and keep the door closed
  • Have only one family member care for them
  • Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying conditions

Gatherings and travel around the holidays factor into the rise and spread of community cases of COVID-19. Some aspects that contribute to the spread include:

  • Exposure during travel
  • Number of people at gathering
  • Location & duration of gathering – indoor events are more susceptible to community spread
  • Maintenance of safety precautions before the gathering – having guests that have not been practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, or wearing masks
  • Shared items such as food and facilities

Given the rise of nationwide cases of COVID-19, the CDC recommends celebrating holidays at home with the people you already live with. The CDC has put together some guidelines and recommendations regarding holidays, travel, and small gatherings, available here. More resources are below:

Emotional Support Resources:

Self Care

For community members, healthcare professionals, and caregivers. Tips on self-care for your lifestyle, resources from health organizations, and a video series from our Complementary Therapies department showing different ways to practice self-care at home.