During the COVID-19 outbreak, hospices nationwide have been challenged by the directive for social distancing and sheltering in place. Many patients and caregivers have come to rely on hospice volunteers for support, companionship and respite visits. Yet, patients in assisted living, long-term care and private homes have been unable to receive outside visitors, with the exception of hospice nurses and aides.
Disconnection from family and friends has in many cases caused patients to feel isolated, lonely and depressed. Main Street Hospice took swift action by asking the local community to help brighten a patient’s day with colorful artwork and handwritten letters, intended to be shared and read to patients during their scheduled nursing visits. As a result, handmade cards, artwork and homemade face masks began flooding the hospice office in Franklin.
Although hospice volunteers have been restricted from visiting patients directly, they have busied themselves making phone calls, writing letters and delivering toiletries, grocery items and home-cooked meals to their home patients who have been unable to leave their homes. A member of Indy Sewing Masks, a local group formed on Facebook, recently donated washable, reusable masks to be distributed to the hospice’s home patients. Close Knit Friends, a knitting group at Greenwood Christian Church which regularly donates lap throws, switched gears and began making face masks as well. Franklin First Assembly of God has been contributing handwritten notes and children’s artwork to be included in patients’ birthday cards. According to Amy Gordon, First Assembly’s junior church leader, “We are being Jesus’ hands and feet to those in our community. It is such a privilege to be able to be a blessing to others. The kids love doing community ministry! One of the children from the Sunday School said, ‘Jesus wants to bless and love people, and He does it through us!'”
When Franklin resident Sandra Julian heard that patients were isolated due to the pandemic, she and her grandsons Carter and Jude Rodriguez wanted to do something to help cheer them up. According to Julian, once the boys got started creating the artwork, “they kept asking to do another one, and they learned that being a blessing to someone else is a lot of fun.”
Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Mioduski, explained, “Our patients have a way of changing us, transforming us to be better people. I find that I grow a little with each connection.” Mioduski continued, “Some of our volunteers have been visiting the same patient for almost a year and have grown to love them as family. Losing them now during this pandemic and not being able to attend the funeral is especially difficult. The volunteers have had to discover new ways to seek closure.” Having just been notified of a patient death, hospice volunteer, Debbie Wright shared, “She was one of the biggest blessings in my life and I will forever be thankful for her! Of course, I am sad that I haven’t been able to visit her recently, but I know that God has a plan and I know that she is resting peacefully with Him.”
During this time of isolation it is important to know that we are never really alone. We are all part of a larger, caring and generous community of friends and neighbors. With the coming of spring, a season synonymous with re-birth and growth, community members have the opportunity to transform themselves by reaching out to volunteer for a variety of organizations.
For more information on hospice services, or to submit your interest in volunteering, please contact Main Street Hospice at (317) 736-0055. Or, visit hospice on the web at mainstreethospicein.com.