A note from our Chief Medical Officer: Thank you for being essential

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Chief Medical Officer Dr Eric Bush and Dale Byer, RN, don personal protective equipment while working in the Rebecca Fortney Inpatient Care Center on the John & Cathy Belcher Campus of Hospice of the Chesapeake in Pasadena, Maryland.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Eric Bush and Dale Byer, RN, don personal protective equipment while working in the Rebecca Fortney Inpatient Care Center.

To watch the news or scroll through social media, it might seem that the only patients being cared for are COVID-19 patients. Of course, we know there are still people with advanced illnesses like congestive heart failure and kidney disease. People still need treatment for cancer. People still need care for dementia. People besides coronavirus patients are still dying. And there are people who need to grieve the loss of a loved one. Every day, our clinical teams continue to care for more than 500 hospice patients and hundreds more palliative care patients and grief support clients, as they did before the pandemic.

It is the uniqueness of this disease that has completely changed the way we care for those who need us. Everything we do now must first start with a protocol that protects patients, families, and care teams from exposure. An all-hands effort to secure personal protective equipment through vendors and from donations yielded an increased supply, but it is something we now must constantly shop for, much in the way home consumers have had to shop for disinfecting wipes and toilet paper. We have many donors to thank — past, present, and future — for keeping us supplied.

Our care teams have stepped up to this challenge in a manner so inspiring. I am proud beyond measure of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time — eyes that smile, voices that calm, and presence when needed.

In a discipline that prides itself on providing comfort and solace, perhaps the most difficult change we have had to accept is the physical distance we now must employ. The calming power of a smile is covered by masks. The reassuring hand on a family member’s shoulder cannot reach through the screen of a mobile device. A patient’s room cannot be filled with family, which is particularly hard for patients who are transitioning and the loved ones who cannot be there with them. This is a reality that will be with us for months. Our care teams have stepped up to this challenge in a manner so inspiring. I am proud beyond measure of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time — eyes that smile, voices that calm, and presence when needed.

We are honored to have your support throughout this. If we are considered “essential,” then so are you because your support makes the care we provide possible.

Dr, Eric Bush, Chief Medical Officer for Hospice of the Chesapeake and Chesapeake Supportive Care.

Gratefully,

Eric Bush, MD, RPh, MBA

Chief Medical Officer

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