Emmanuel Hospice launches telehealth program

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Emmanuel Hospice Support Programs Manager Jenny Kellogg connects with spiritual caregiver David Veldt via telehealth. Courtesy Emmanuel Hospice

Emmanuel Hospice recently launched a new telehealth program to continue serving patients amid visitor restrictions in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The development of telehealth means the faith-based nonprofit can maintain its holistic approach to patient care and facilitate family interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic and when human connection is needed most.

“In trying to provide hospice care during the pandemic, one of the harder things we’ve run up against is the lack of direct patient contact,” said Jenny Kellogg, Emmanuel Hospice support programs manager. “It’s been a really hard time for patients who cannot have family or other visitors.”

Emmanuel’s nurses, social workers, spiritual caregivers, music therapists and other team members were able to continue providing virtual care at the bedside through the use of iPads and specially designed transport carts.

Videos sharing guided imagery utilizing ambient music and self-massage techniques were other helpful resources for patients and their in-facility support teams.

“While virtually is not the ideal way to engage, we’re so grateful we’re in a place where it’s an option to have a video chat,” Kellogg said. “Being able to help patients see a familiar face or hear a familiar voice helps us still be able to provide a holistic approach to our patient care.

Kellogg said telehealth offers a host of benefits, especially improving patients’ mental health. Beyond connecting families and the positive emotional impacts, patients also appreciate having something to do.

One patient was able to connect with her son in China through a telehealth visit within the last days of her life, which her hospice team said was a great comfort to the family.

The collaboration of several community partners with the support of grant funding enabled Emmanuel Hospice to create telehealth devices with specially designed charging units that could be easily moved from room to room in facilities while simultaneously safeguarding the health of their patients and team.

“We are grateful to our community partners for being part of the solution in providing assistance to support our services during this critical time,” Kellogg said. “This mode of communication has only amplified what we’re able to do from our homes.”

Both the equipment and software for Emmanuel Hospice’s telehealth program were funded in part by a $2,900 grant from Fremont Area Community Foundation’s Elderly Needs Fund and $1,000 of the Emergency Human Needs Fund, which was awarded by a community coalition comprised of the Greater Ottawa County United Way, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance, Community Spoke, Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area and others.

The mobile iPad systems were built from stands purchased through Displays2Go, charging units purchased through Byrne Electrical and caster wheels donated by Caster Depot. Grand Rapids Chair Company picked up and delivered all the stands, donated the labor of machining the stands so the casters would fit and then installed the casters.

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