Please help Hospice continue to fight against COVID-19. Your support is needed now more than ever.

St. Joseph’s Hospice frontline workers are experts in responding to the unique needs of health crises. Each day, we care for patients who are coping with the fear and uncertainty surrounding end-of-life. We want to continue to care for these individuals holistically and need your help to maintain our invaluable services.

This is why we have created a COVID-19 response fund. Your donations will be used to fund the critical, acute needs of our frontline workers and the patients they care for at this time, including medical supplies, personal protective equipment and all the programs and services you have come to expect from St. Joseph’s Hospice. In crisis, more than ever, we need your support.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Update 

The COVID-19 pandemic situation is rapidly evolving in Ontario. St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to take actions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our staff, physicians, patients, families and visitors.

St. Joseph’s Hospice has created a COVID-19 community line. The community is invited to ask questions, convey concerns or suggestions or notes of appreciation. You can call at (519) 931-3478 and leave a message. Messages will be retrieved twice daily and we will endeavour to respond within one working day.

All of the following communiques are listed in date order from the newest to the oldest.

_______________________________________________

Monday, July 27, 2020

Dear friends of St. Joseph’s Hospice,

The Ontario Government announced nearly all businesses and public spaces would reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place. As Ontario continues down the path, this communication is being sent to provide an update from Hospice.

Community & Supportive Care News

As we move into Stage 3 of the COVID 19 pandemic, Community and Supportive Care continues to provide virtual support to bereaved, palliative clients and their caregivers. Hospice’s Spiritual Care Practitioner, caseworkers, psychotherapist, staff, and volunteers are offering support with phone calls, check-ins, and counselling sessions.

We are also hosting virtual support groups:

• Zooming into Wellness
• Practicing Self Compassion
• Exploring Grief
• Caregiver Conversations

These groups have been well received, and we will continue to offer these groups in the Fall. As well we anticipate introducing more virtual groups to meet the needs of our clients.

Most recently, we have begun to accept appointments for two remote therapies – Reiki and Reconnective Healing.

Margaret Morgan Moore,
Director of Communication and Supportive Care

 

Volunteer Services News

Volunteers are the backbone of Hospice programs and services. Even in crisis, we rely on volunteers to keep us running smoothly. That being said, our primary concern is everyone’s health and safety. Direct service volunteer roles are still suspended and we will monitor and keep you informed of any changes as we follow the guidelines put forth by the Ministry of Health, Government and HPCO. We are forever grateful to each and every one of our volunteers and look forward to welcoming everyone back soon.

Kitchen volunteers returned to Hospice on May 16 and are working 4:00 – 7:00pm Monday – Sunday, as well as 9:00am – 1:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

A small and dedicated group of UWO Med students have been covering reception since March, however their schedules are changing as they prepare to resume classes. A few of the regular reception volunteers have returned in July though we have needed to recruit some new faces and will continue to monitor our needs month to month through this pandemic.

Music volunteers providing harp, flute and keyboard have returned to Hospice mid-July.

All other in-house volunteer roles (including concierge and direct support volunteers) continue to be suspended.

Community Volunteer Visitors who were matched with a client prior to the pandemic continue to support their clients via telephone calls regularly. Our volunteer community therapists continue to offer remote healing to palliative clients. The volunteer driving program remains suspended.

Community caseworkers receive regular calls and emails from volunteer visitors inquiring if they can visit Hospice clients in their home now that London is in Stage 3. The message sent to all visiting volunteers clarifies that “London and Middlesex County are gradually reopening, but that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is gone. The virus is still here. That is why the St. Joseph’s Hospice Visiting Program remains suspended. The way to beat COVID-19 is to stop it from spreading! We are relieved to share that we have no reported cases of COVID-19 within our population of community clients.”

Hospice appreciates the continued support visiting volunteers are providing our community clients – through the use of the phone and other technologies. We are humbled by your concern for our clients and your desire and dedication to continue to support them while physical visits are still prohibited. We are thankful and grateful for your respectful consideration of the physical and emotional well-being of our clients. Your diligence has reduced the transmission of COVID-19, and your actions are protecting our vulnerable clients who have compromised immune systems.

While the current pandemic circumstances have altered how you provide support, it hasn’t changed the way Hospice must document and report the valuable work you are performing. We appreciate that you continue to keep a record of your communication with clients and submit your volunteer reports.

“Our sincere gratitude for your efforts, dedication and compassion.
Stay well.”

Carla McDonald,
Volunteer Services Coordinator

 

Hospice Residence News

There continue to be no outbreaks in any facilities in Middlesex London. The hospital (LHSC) has fewer than five patients with COVID-19 as they post numbers greater than 5 (6 as of last Friday).

• The Ontario Hospice Medical Directors group has made some changes. The isolation period for new residents admitted to Hospice has decreased from 14 days to 11 days, which remains greater than the recommended eight-day transmission period.
• Active screening continues before being permitted entrance to Hospice. Anyone who has entered Hospice, who then presents with COVID-19 symptoms, is to be tested. Staff and volunteers are swabbed at the assessment centre, and residents are swabbed on site.
• Staff and volunteers continue to be vigilant about not entering a room if visitors are not masked.
• Gowns and gloves are to be worn for direct care in the room only. Dropping off water, pills or taking lunch orders can be done with eye protection and mask alone.
• We continue to sanitize high touch areas such as bedrails and over-bed tables before providing care.
• If the staff are in a resident’s suite, family and visitors are asked to move into the sitting area.
• At the end of life, when residents have multiple visitors who are anxious to see their loved one, physical distancing is still essential to keep safe while supporting grief and bereavement needs.

Public Health advises that as we continue our shared fight against coronavirus (COVID-19), social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines. Public Health advises that Ontarians can now establish a family or social circle of no more than ten people who can interact with one another without physical distancing.

Visitor restrictions continue to be based on the square footage of the room (including private balcony) and the family composition, and are at the discretion of the medical team and nursing staff. A resident can designate the ten people in their social circle who are permitted as visitors. So, if 3 people who are not in the same 10-person bubble are in the room, that is the maximum. If 10 people from the same bubble are visiting, they can all be in the suite at the same time.

We are trying to keep to the usual visiting hours of 8:00am – 11:00pm. If someone is at end-of-life, they can have more visitors and the hours are expanded to 24 hours a day.

Reception volunteers actively screen visitors, ask visitors to sanitize, wear a mask and sign in. Visitors are restricted to resident suites, the bistro and the outdoor terrace. Common areas, including the Great Room, Quiet Room and Living Room, remain closed at this time.

Visitors and family members are asked to use the washroom inside the resident suite. However, public washrooms, including the Family Washroom and the washrooms on the North Wing beside the bistro, are available if required. Hospice relies on following provincial guidelines at https://files.ontario.ca/mof-framework-reopening-province-stage-3-en-2020-07-13.pdf that state washroom facilities will be cleaned and disinfected frequently.

The Bistro kitchen will open this week for family/visitor drinks and heating of food only. No food will be provided. There are wipes to clean the microwave prior to use in the event that the previous person did not clean it after use. Staff and volunteers can use the Great Room carafe for coffee as coffee is not available in the staff room. Volunteers and staff can share the use of the lunchroom as long as they are masked and maintaining the 6-foot physical distancing guidelines.

We continue to have one person in the kitchen at a time. The shifts are 8:00am – 2:00pm (typically Allan) and 4:00pm – 7:00pm (typically a kitchen volunteer). Outside those hours, staff can access the kitchen after covering their uniform with an apron, to be used over the shift and hung on the appropriate hook (outside facing the wall). With the humid weather, we have placed a dehumidifier in the Great Room, if you notice it is not running, please feel free to empty the lower bucket. Watering the terrace plants is a great use for this water.

We are no longer asked to sign for deliveries. Many places are asking for a first name only over the intercom. Deliveries vary as some companies/employees are comfortable entering hospice, and some are not. Some volunteers are going down to retrieve packages, and some are not. Staff are always available to retrieve packages and find their intended home. Some deliveries are for the Sisters of St. Joseph and can be delivered to Hospice and we will re-direct them. Large items may be left at the door for staff to retrieve by cart. The delivery personnel advise the Reception Volunteer if they are delivering a large order, in which case a large black cart is available.

North wing staff are returning to Hospice Monday, July 22 with one staff member at a time in hospice for a shortened day to assist with some tasks that must be done on-site (mailing condolence cards, taking photos of hospice/staff for social media, supporting visitors and volunteers, watering plants), as well as doing their own on-site tasks. The postage meter has been moved to the Supply Room beside the photocopier for convenience

Wendy Boyle,
Director of Resident Care

 

Community Engagement & Development News

Gabriella Catollino has retired from St. Joseph’s Hospice effective July 17, having served two years at Hospice, and supporting the London Middlesex community for more than 40 years. Hospice has benefited from her leadership and guidance in regard to our fundraising efforts, and we wish her all the best on this next adventure.

It is my pleasure to introduce Colleen Harris, who will be joining St. Joseph’s Hospice as the new Director, Community Engagement & Development, on September 8. Colleen brings to Hospice more than 17 years of progressive fundraising experience, with more than ten at the executive level, and we look forward to welcoming Coleen in the Fall.

This year, our Hike for Hospice will be held virtually, on October 3 & 4, with more information to be released soon.

Janet Groen,
Executive Director

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we reach the end of our ninth week self-isolating at home, many of us are becoming accustomed to our “new normal” practices of social distancing.

With everyone abiding by the rules, Ontarians have certainly helped flattened the curve of COVID-19 infections. With that, there are promising signs that some restrictions will be lessened. Despite the recent outbreak at St. Joseph’s Hospice, and the heartache that caused, we look forward to better days ahead.

No doubt you read the sad London Free Press story: PSW at Sisters of St. Joseph second area health worker to die of COVID-19 this week. While the Sisters of St. Joseph are separate and distanced from St. Joseph’s Hospice, it is their legacy that guides Hospice in all we do. We send them all our good wishes, love and prayers as they mourn the loss of one of their workers.

St. Joseph’s Hospice has always been blessed with the love and support of the communities we serve, being surprised every day by generous hearts. The past nine weeks have multiplied that generosity tenfold, in so many beautiful ways. And we cannot thank all of you enough. Sometimes the words “thank you” are uttered by rote, without a lot of thought. Believe me when I say, on behalf of every single person at Hospice, a huge “thank you” with the most profound meaning for all of your support.

I wanted to share just a few of the kind gestures, email messages of love, concern and appreciation directed to Hospice and its workers and volunteers. We have hundreds more, but this gives you a sense of the encouragement we receive every single day.

This week we celebrated National Nursing Week. The outpouring of kind thoughts and words and other goodies was extraordinary. We all appreciate our nurses every day – the unsung heroes – even more so during this pandemic.

  • I am glad to know that everyone is staying safe and healthy. I have great admiration for the Hospice staff team, providing care for patients, especially during this COVID crisis. Please let everyone know that their work is well appreciated. -Kevin
  • I am with the Catholic Women’s League at Holy Cross Parish. Together with Nova Lisboa restaurant, we would like to provide lunch for the nurses during National Palliative Care Week. We are also holding a 12-hour prayer vigil on May 17, that includes St. Joseph’s Hospice. Nova Lisboa will be delivering meals on that day. -Maria
  • Please pass on my HUGE thank you to the clinical staff at Hospice. ’m sure it’s been quite the challenge for them, and I admire their dedication and level of gentle support for those who need end of life care. Hopefully, the end of the restrictions will soon be over, and former “duties” can resume. However, I’m sure in an altered way. -Janet
  • It must be very stressful for all staff [at Hospice]. We are positively thinking of everyone!  Three Large pizzas from Piero’s coming your way! Enjoy and tell everyone thanks for the excellent work that they do and to stay safe!! -Cheryl
  • Thinking about you. I pray you are well, and I pray that St. Joseph’s Hospice can get back on track slowly and safely. There cannot be a rush to get Hospice re-opened.  This virus is devastating, so many people and so many health facilities. God bless you and all the staff at Hospice. Stay Healthy! Stay Safe!  -Cathy
  • Kudos to the staff for keeping everything going in these impossible times. I am so proud of such a caring organization. Warm regards to all the Hospice staff. -Jean
  • I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all Hospice staff for all your hard work and dedication during this stressful time. Here’s hoping things get under control soon. -Bonnie
  • It is an opportunity for compassionate and caring humans, and people of faith to show their stuff! Self-isolation may be necessary, but selfishness isn’t. May you stay healthy and able to do what you do for family and others! -Gloria
  • Thanks for all the work you are doing to continue to provide adequate care to those most in need. -Ann
  • I am currently 3D printing face mask headbands that attach to the elastics of the face masks so that nurses/doctors do not have to hook them behind their ears. If you would like some, let me know how many. -Peter
  • I just dropped off 30 masks. I can have that many more ready for Monday if you can use them. Please send my best wishes to all the staff.  -Myrna

Community & Supportive Care News

Community and Supportive Care continues to provide virtual support to bereaved, palliative clients and their caregivers. Hospice’s Spiritual Care Practitioner, caseworkers, psychotherapist, staff, and volunteers are offering support with phone calls, check-ins, and counselling sessions. We have also started virtual support groups. The first virtual group, Zooming into Wellness, was well attended and appreciated by the participants. Soon other virtual groups will be added, including the following:

Caregiver Conversations — Bi-Weekly on Thursdays – 2:00 – 3:00 pm

  • Adapted online program.
  • Ten session program that explores various topics related to the caregiver experience.
  • Themes include:
  • Care for the Caregiver
  • How to be Present with a Dying Person
  • Effective Communication with Medical Professionals
  • Each session stands alone, and participants are welcome to attend the full program or just those sessions that may be of interest.
  • This program is open to Caregivers caring for someone with a palliative illness. Registration is required.

Practicing Self Compassion – 6-Weeks on Wednesdays, June 3 – July 15 (no group July 1) – 2:00 – 3:00 pm

  • Adapted online program
  • Exploring the importance of self-care and compassion for the mind, body, and heart; to ease suffering and to nurture self-resilience.
  • This program is open to bereaved clients who are at least 3-months past the date of their loss.
  • Registration is required / no drop-ins.

Exploring Grief – Weekly on Fridays – June 5 – July 10 – 11:00 am to noon

  • Adapted online program
  • Exploring the connection between the six tasks of mourning and creative expression.
  • Participants will engage in group discussion and activities, as well as receive thoughtful journaling prompts to further explore their grief through the written word.
  • This program is open to bereaved clients who are at least 3-months past the date of their loss.
  • Registration is required / no drop-ins. 

Zooming into Wellness – 4-Weeks on Wednesdays – June 17 – July 15 – 11:00 am to noon

  • New online program
  • Focussing on coping skills and wellness group.
  • Participants will engage in mindfulness and self-care activities as a group. They will be provided with takeaway activities and resources.
  • This program is open to caregivers and palliative clients.
  • Registration is required / no drop-ins.

As well as supporting our clients, on May 27, we will be providing (virtually) an introduction and orientation to St. Joseph’s Hospice, to the students enrolled in the Thanatology Program at King’s College.

Spiritual Care Practitioner, Terry Tribe

This episode of CBC’s Tapestry is worth a listen as we adapt to the changes around us. Dr. Aisha Ahmed has experience with crisis and shares tips that both help, as well as provide hope.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/lessons-from-a-war-zone-how-to-emotionally-survive-and-flourish-in-the-pandemic-1.5561209

“Ahmad has lived and worked on conflict dynamics in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, Kenya and Somalia. It became clear to her fairly early in the COVID-19 pandemic that many of the people around her had no experience surviving the systems-wide failure brought on by catastrophe.”

COVID-19 Fund and More

Through your generosity St. Joseph’s Hospice has been able to continue its programs and services. The residence is open and our Community and Supportive Care team have reimagined the way they provide support to clients, caregivers, and loved ones, as well as to those who are bereaved.

We have needed to support our frontline caregivers in extraordinary ways. Our volunteers and staff are also being provided with tips and tools to help them cope in light of our new reality. We know that loneliness and isolation can affect all of us in different ways. We are doing all we can to support our Hospice family, thanks to you.

In addition to the many, many, many others who are supporting us at this time, here are a few recent highlights of care and concern. We would very much like extend our gratitude to all of our donors.

  • Ryan Fraser and Christy Basic – wanted to help Hospice and rallied their friends to support too. It was at their urging that Hospice created the COVID-19 Fund. Thank you for your vision and support.
  • London Community Foundation – Thank you for your $15,000 gift to support our frontline heroes to keep them safe and healthy.
  • Canada Life –Your $5,000 gift in response to our request to support our COVID-19 Fund is much appreciated.
  • Eileen Dobell –Thank you for your thoughtfulness and for redirecting your support that would typically go to Handbags for Hospice to Hospice’s General Fund.
  • Anne Marie Brunner – Congratulations on your recent birthday. Asking your friends and family to redirect their usual birthday-gift-giving to St. Joseph’s Hospice is a very selfless thing to do. More than $2,000 was raised in this creative fundraiser.
  • Deb Crowe – Another birthday girl, celebrating on May 19. She too has asked friends and family to donate to Hospice in lieu of a birthday gift.
  • Peeters Family Foundation – Supporting COVID-19 Fund without being solicited.
  • Bites & Bubbles – Cancelling this anticipated “event of the decade” was heartbreaking for us at Hospice. What helped to brighten our outlook was the many sponsors and ticket purchasers who redirected their funds to upcoming events or simply transferred their funds to an outright donation. The event was set to raise $100,000. With your generosity, all was not lost. More than $30,000 was able to be used for operations when we needed it the most.

To all of our donors, your gifts are going to support some of the extraordinary expenses that Hospice has had to incur due to COVID-19, such as:

  • PPE – $18,000 (to date)
  • JDI Cleaning – $8,000
  • Extraordinary Staff Support – $6,700
  • Plexiglass Partitions – $1,700
  • Secure Zoom Videoconferencing – $2,700

As you know, Bites & Bubbles and Handbags for Hospice was cancelled. Together those events raise more than $250,000. The extra COVID-19 expenses and the loss of anticipated revenue are taking their toll.

We know these are challenging times for everyone. When we need you the most, you are there for us. We are so grateful.

If you wish to help out, please donate to the COVID-19 Fund (at the top of this page). Your gift ensures we can continue to fulfil our vital mission.

Janet Groen, Executive Director

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Dear friends of St. Joseph’s Hospice,

I hope this uplifting message finds you all keeping safe and well. As you know, St. Joseph’s Hospice has overcome many challenges over the past few weeks. Although we have experienced some tough days, we are delighted to inform you that all of the staff members who contracted COVID-19 are well and back to work.

We are in awe of our care teams. They’re on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them paid the price of that care. Yet, they were eager to return to work and care for our patients, clients and their families. We thank them for their dedication.

Hospice has reopened its residence and admitted three new patients last week. One of those patients is a gentleman who spent six weeks in the hospital before arriving. His wife met up with him at Hospice when he entered his suite. She danced and danced around the room—it was the first time she had seen him in person in six weeks. These are the heartwarming stories that exemplify what Hospice is all about; supporting our patients and families in our home-like facility with skilled and compassionate care.

Amid the pains of COVID-19, some beautiful examples of community support brightened our days. Volunteers picked up material from Hospice, sewed, and delivered more than 100 washable gowns. These material gowns are just one of the essential pieces of Personal Protective Equipment that keep our staff and patients safe. More material was picked up last week, for another 150 gowns. These newly sewn gowns are beginning to trickle back into Hospice as well. Thank you to all of our skilled volunteers for your incredible assistance.

We are delighted at the response of our newly formed COVID-19 Fund. To date, Hospice has received more than $15,000 from our generous community.  With the many extraordinary expenses resulting from COVID-19, your support will most certainly help us through this crisis.

If you have been thinking about a donation to our COVID-19 Fund, but haven’t yet made a gift, I will remind you that tomorrow is GIVING TUESDAY! A special day when everyone around the world can support those who are on the front lines—our heroes—with financial contributions. Every dollar makes a huge difference in these challenging times. Thank you for your trust and support.

St. Joseph’s Hospice is an integral part of London-Middlesex healthcare system—providing compassionate & expert care to those living with a terminal illness, their families and the bereaved. Requests for our services continue to grow as our population ages. Our planning has been addressing these normal growth expectancies. But, COVID-19 was unexpected, as were the many ways Hospice has needed to respond.

When the pandemic arrived, Hospice initiated its crisis plan to overcome the challenges we now faced. Every single staff member had to approach work differently, many on the front lines, many remotely. To ensure the seamless delivery of care, in both in our residence and the community, we had to address some critical issues. Sourcing PPE for frontline caregivers, reimagining delivery of service, erecting plexiglass barriers, screening visitors, professionally cleaning all surfaces, meeting online, were just some of the “new normal” practices implemented. Immense pressure was thrust on our IT systems & network to ensure our electronic information was safe & accessible.

As a charitable organization, Hospice’s financial model differs from other healthcare providers—relying on its generous donors for ½ of the operating budget ($1.4M). Hospice is exploring all additional funding opportunities in light of both cancelled fundraising events. Our COVID-19 Fund is just one way you can help support our efforts. Thank you for considering a gift tomorrow on GIVING TUESDAY.

We thank you for all of your beautiful well-wishes, prayers, and support during some of our darkest days. With bright ones ahead, we remind you that the fight against COVID-19 is not over. Thank you for continuing to support St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Stay home, stay safe, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Janet Groen, Executive Director

___________________________________________________

Friday, April 24, 2020 — Special Media Release

St. Joseph’s Hospice Opens to New Admissions Post COVID-19 Outbreak

(London, ON) — St. Joseph’s Hospice recently experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, affecting 13 staff members and five patients. The outbreak was declared resolved by the Middlesex London Health Unit on April 24.

“To ensure the safety of its healthcare workers, patients, visitors and volunteers, St. Joseph’s Hospice is implementing a plan to re-open its residence to new admissions,” announced St. Joseph’s Hospice Executive Director, Janet Groen. “The procedures were developed based on the current best practices and current guidance and directives issued by the province and in consultation with Public Health Ontario and the Middlesex London Health Unit”.

St. Joseph’s Hospice hired an external professional cleaning service to complete a deep clean of its premises, with continued use of hospital-grade disinfectant and broad-spectrum virucidal, and allowed for a period of time during which the most suites remained empty.

St. Joseph’s Hospice will screen and test new patients before admission. Only individuals without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis will be admitted.

“The number of people dying from non-COVID-19 causes is not changing, and they still need our services and care. It’s also important that we continue to ease the burden on hospitals by accommodating those at end of life here at Hospice,” says St. Joseph’s Hospice Executive Director, Janet Groen.

To help prevent the spread of the virus, visitors will be limited. Each patient is allowed one visitor per day. All visitors are actively screened upon arrival and must comply with Hospice’s guidelines regarding use of masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

Staff members are being assessed on an individual basis and will be cleared to return to work by the Middlesex London Health Unit. Clearance was based supporting research related to communicability and transmissibility of COVID-19.

St. Joseph’s Hospice follows best practices and infection control guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment, universal precautions, enhanced cleaning and diligent hand hygiene.

– 30 –

About St. Joseph’s Hospice —St. Joseph’s Hospice has been an integral part of the London-Middlesex community for more than 30 years, providing excellent, compassionate end-of-life care and bereavement support. St. Joseph’s Hospice alleviates pressure on hospitals by providing patients at the end of life with compassionate and expert care in a home-like setting, while also supporting their families at a difficult time.

Hospice services will continue to be needed in light of an aging population nearing the end of life, and with the demands that our health care system is now facing concerning COVID-19.

Janet Groen, Executive Director

___________________________________________________

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear friends,

Over the past few weeks, St. Joseph’s Hospice has been sharing information about our Hospice experience with COVID-19. As a reminder, all previous messages can be found on our website. We continue to respond to messages left on our Community Phone Line – (519) 931-3478. Messages will be retrieved twice daily, and we hope to respond within one working day.

Confirmed Cases:

Since March 15, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at St. Joseph’s Hospice totals 18, including five (5) patients and13 staff members. All of our staff are recovering, and some have received approval from the Middlesex London Health Unit to return to work. We extend our sincere gratitude to them, and every essential frontline worker in London-Middlesex who is supporting our community during this pandemic.

A deep clean of Hospice will be completed by April 24 by professional cleaners to enhance our routine cleaning practices.

Hospice’s residence is still open, and we continue to deliver on our mission of providing the best end-of-life care possible to our patients and families. New admissions will be screened carefully before being welcomed to Hospice.

Community & Supportive Care:

The Community and Supportive Care team held its first virtual support group, Zooming into Wellness, on April 22. Significant preparation was done to re-imagine the former face to face content into a meaningful virtual format, led by the program coordinator and psychotherapist.  It was a resounding success. Nine very engaged participants appreciated the opportunity to come together and share their grief journey with others.

Several other virtual support groups are being developed that will be rolled out over the next few weeks. These include themes such as:

  • Practicing Self-Compassion
  • Exploring Grief through Journaling
  • Caregiver Support
  • Understanding Your Grief

As the pandemic continues, we recognize that there is a need to provide grief & bereavement and caregiver support in new and different ways.

Extending Our Sincere Gratitude:

The outpouring of support for St. Joseph’s Hospice has been heartwarming. I would like to share just a few extraordinary experiences with you.

This week is National Volunteer Week. This week-long celebration of all Canadian volunteers means so much more under our current circumstances. Hospice’s more than 325 volunteers have been helping in extraordinary ways. During a pandemic such as the one we’re in, we need our village around us. And we definitely feel the love and support from all of you. Thank you for all you do, every single day, to support St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Medical Students Volunteer:

Hospice put out a call for more reception volunteers. To our delight and surprise, students from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry responded. Our sincere thanks go out to this group of kindhearted individuals.

Here is what one of those students shared:

“I think I can speak for all the student volunteers when I say that we have a strong desire to support our community. So, when we were contacted by Dr. Hertzman to help out, we were more than eager to offer support.  

 From a more personal level, since starting my training, I’ve gradually come to accept that we can’t stop everyone from dying. Still, we can try to stop everyone from dying alone or with undue suffering. I am glad to be able to help Hospice achieve those goals.

 From a learning point of view, due to disruptions to our curriculum, we students have been deprived of “real world” learning experiences. Being at Hospice has been a fantastic opportunity to see how an institution adapts to the challenges imposed by the pandemic. I am grateful to have been able to witness both some of the heartbreaking and heartwarming consequences of the crisis. It has been a privilege to support the Hospice community during this time.”

— Chris, Med2022, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University

Volunteer Sewers:

St. Joseph’s Hospice was able to secure 21 sewing kits provided by Len’s Mill Stores. Each kit includes material to make five cloth gowns for frontline workers. Within 20 minutes of putting out a call to our volunteers, we were turning volunteers away. Soon we will have ample washable gowns for our care team. From what I hear, they are much more comfortable than disposable paper gowns. It was an extraordinary response to our request. Thank you so very much for sharing your talent in this valuable way.

Volunteer Well-Wishers:

Our frontline heroes felt the love today in the form of a care package of food, face shields, hand sanitizer and a note that read:

“You bring comfort where there is pain, courage where there is fear and acceptance when the end is near, and you do this all with gentleness, tenderness, patience, compassion, and love. As part of our thanks, we wanted to offer some comforts as a symbol of our gratitude for all you do and all you will be called to do as we move forward in this challenging time.”

Special thanks to the staff at Misteelco Inc. and Unlimited Metals for sending joy to our caregivers.

And More Well-Wishers:

St. Joseph’s Hospice received more than 30 individually-written letters from students in grades 1, 2, and 3, from West Oaks French Immersion Public School in London. In each case, genuine appreciation for our frontline workers came through loud and clear. From your pencils to our hearts, we thank you. Below are just two of the precious messages received:

Hello Doctors and Nurses, I am a 7-year-old grade 2 student in Mme Moss’s class at West Oaks French Immersion school. My favourite things to learn are math, science and about people around the world. I miss being in school right now. But I like that my teachers are still helping me to learn at home. I really appreciate how hard you are working to find ways to keep us healthy and to help those who are sick. This is a scary time, and I am very thankful that you are working even though you might be worried and stressed and might not see your families much. I hope that you are staying safe and healthy and that you have a favourite song to wash your hands to. I sing the alphabet when I wash mine. Bye. Thank you! 

–Rose

Support from Around the World:

One World: Together At Home Broadcast

This concert was aired on Saturday, April 18, 2020, as a tribute to all the first responders and frontline workers who have been serving the world during the COVID 19 pandemic. We are grateful for everyone’s support. Attached below is the link to YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Igx-5Kej8k

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You:

In addition to informing, my message today is focussed on my delight and gratitude. Thank you to everyone for helping in whatever way you can. The moral support is uplifting and helps us get through some difficult days. We appreciate every single one of you.

Your incredible generosity comes through in many ways. So far, St. Joseph’s Hospice has received more than $11,000 in response to our COVID-19 fund. Our expenses are extraordinary in these times, and every $1 assists to support our mission, and we are very grateful.

Thank you for doing your part in whatever way you can. Thank you too for practicing physical distancing, so that things don’t get worse. We will get through this together.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dear friends,

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to actively monitor the situation closely. We know that our community is concerned, and we share your concerns.

At this time, ten (10) staff members and two (2) current patients have tested positive for COVID-19. To each of them and their families, we extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers.

As previously reported, St. Joseph’s Hospice will be closing for up to 5 days as an external professional service performs a deep-clean and sterilization of the premises before admitting any new patients. The closure date has not yet been confirmed but we will keep you informed.

Any volunteer who has been at St. Joseph’s Hospice over the past month has maintained the required two meters of physical distancing from all other individuals, in addition to other precautions and hygiene procedures. Nevertheless, we ask that you self-monitor for symptoms based on the fact sheet attached. If you do experience symptoms of COVID-19, Public Health advises that you should self-isolate for 14 days and report to the COVID-19 assessment centre.

St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to put every precautionary measure in place to ensure the health and safety of our patients, families, volunteers and staff.

Wishing you all wellness,
Janet Groen, Executive Director

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Dear friends,

St. Joseph’s Hospice is an essential service and an integral part of our city’s extraordinary network of healthcare systems. We have continued to operate during these unprecedented circumstances, providing expert care to the most vulnerable as they journey to end of life.

Five new positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed at St. Joseph’s Hospice this week: three health care workers and two patients.

According to Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), one confirmed case of COVID-19 is considered an outbreak. As a result, MLHU declared Hospice an outbreak site this morning, and for this reason, we will no longer be accepting new admissions. Hospice is currently home to five patients and we will continue their care until end of life.

St. Joseph’s Hospice remains under work quarantine. Our frontline workers are now wearing personal protective equipment throughout the duration of their shifts, including face masks, shields, gloves and gowns.

Once the Hospice residence becomes vacant, an external professional service will perform a deep-clean and sterilization of the premises. Upon completion, Hospice will remain closed for an additional three days to ensure any persisting COVID-19 droplets in the air or on surfaces are no longer virulent.

Prior to admitting residents to Hospice, all essential workers in contact with residents will be tested for COVID-19. In addition, all new patients will require a negative COVID-19 test result prior to gaining admission.

St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to strictly follow all protocols and directives provided by the Public Health Ontario COVID-19 command table, including visitor guidelines. Visitors will continue to be screened before being given access to Hospice. Furthermore, in accordance with Public Health directives, all visitors must:

  • Be limited to one person per resident
  • Wear a mask at all time
  • Limit on-site visits to resident suites
  • Maintain two metres of physical distancing

When death is imminent (i.e. within hours), the visiting policy may be relaxed somewhat on a case-by-case basis. We thank you for your compliance with these guidelines.

If you have questions or concerns regarding St. Joseph’s Hospice handling of COVID-19, please call our community line at (519) 931-3478 and leave a message. Messages will be retrieved twice daily and we hope to respond within one working day.

Our collective thoughts and prayers are with all individuals suffering at this difficult time.

St. Joseph’s Hospices remains committed to our mission of providing compassionate care and companionship to palliative and bereaved individuals and families. We thank you for your continued understanding and support.

Wishing you all strength and perseverance,
Janet Groen
Executive Director

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Dear friends,

At St. Joseph’s Hospice, we are humbled by the community’s response during this unprecedented public health crisis. In our previous communiques we shared some of the significant challenges we have been facing. Yet, everyday we continue to serve those who are terminally ill, those who are bereaved, and their families. Our focus continues to be on those we serve, providing the expert, compassionate care, upon which we have built our strong reputation. As a community, your ongoing commitment to Hospice buoys us as we continue to address every challenge that comes our way with professionalism and grace.

Life has changed in the blink of an eye. Business and school closures have been extended, religious services have ceased or moved online. Easter will bear no resemblance to its typically communal celebration. As a country, Canadians are struggling to adapt to a “new normal.”

In the midst of this pandemic, I am inspired by Hospice’s brave frontline workers who expertly care for our residents and their loved ones. We have volunteers who continue to come in day-after-day, counselling and spiritual care staff who are still connecting with our clients, either by phone or virtually, and administrative staff members who have voluntarily redeployed their services to urgently needed areas, such as the kitchen and reception. These individuals are true heroes and we cannot thank them enough. I applaud every one of them!

Many of you have reached out to ask how you can support Hospice in our time of need. This is why we have created a COVID-19 Response Fund. Like many healthcare organizations, we now find ourselves working differently. Here is just one example of an extraordinary need. Our frontline care providers are in need of personal protective equipment, including face masks, shields, gloves and gowns. In order to meet the minimum requirements to function safely over the next six months, we have incurred an unanticipated expenditure of more than $12,000. This is an extraordinary cost for Hospice, and one that we were not prepared to pay. It is our priority to keep our frontline heroes safe so they can continue to do what they do best: provide safe and compassionate care and support for the most vulnerable members of our community. For more information about the COVID-19 Response Fund, please click on the image below.

As we continue on this journey together, we encourage each of you to do your part to help our community stay safe and well. Practice social distancing and follow the advice of public health officials. Take care of yourself. Supporters can kindly leave words of encouragement or appreciation through Hospice’s COVID-19 community telephone line. This line can also be used to triage questions or concerns. Please call (519) 931-3478 and leave a message. Messages will be retrieved twice daily and we hope to respond within one working day. Any motivational messages will be shared with our staff.

Hospice is still seeking volunteers to screen visitors via intercom and prepare meals in the kitchen. We respect the individual needs and rights of each of our volunteers. Those who understand the risks involved and are willing to make the informed decision to volunteer at Hospice are asked to call Patti at (519) 281-9841.

We are sincerely grateful to each of you for your flexibility under these new pressures. We are all witnessing devastation around us, but it is heartwarming to have the unwavering support of our Hospice family and community.

As Pope Francis once said of our namesake, St. Joseph: “Do not lose hope. St. Joseph also experienced moments of difficulty, but he never lost faith and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God never abandons us.”

We will get through this together.

Wishing you all strength and perseverance,
Janet Groen
Executive Director

___________________________________________________

Monday, March 30, 2020

St. Joseph’s Hospice is deeply concerned about COVID-19 and its impact on the lives of our community.  As one of London’s vital healthcare providers, St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to take action to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our staff, physicians, patients, families and visitors.

On Friday, March 27, a resident at Hospice was tested for COVID-19. On Sunday, March 29, a positive test result was confirmed by the Middlesex-London Health Unit. This resident has since passed away from underlying health conditions. Staff members who provided care for the patient without the consistent and appropriate use of PPE were deemed critical for operations and returned to work under “work-quarantine.” They did not self-isolate for 14 days. St. Joseph’s Hospice is working closely with, and strictly following all protocols and directives provided by Public Health and the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

St. Joseph’s Hospice has created a COVID-19 community line.  The community is invited to ask questions, convey concerns or suggestions or notes of appreciation.  You can call at (519) 931-3478 and leave a message.  Messages will be retrieved twice daily and we will endeavour to respond within one working day.

___________________________________________________

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear friends of St. Joseph’s Hospice,

Hospice intends to stay in touch with weekly updates to our community. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we adjust our operating practices according to recommendations from Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Yesterday, Hospice released an update regarding a direct care staff member presenting with symptoms associated with COVID-19. To read this update in full, click here.

Our community and supportive care team continues to look for ways to help our clients in these unprecedented times. Case workers are checking in remotely with palliative clients and caregivers in the community and many visiting volunteers are connecting virtually with patients in an effort to support them and reduce the stress caused by isolation. Hospice is actively exploring ways to provide remote grief and bereavement support, counselling and spiritual care. We are in contact with HPCO and other hospices in an effort to implement best practices and provide services remotely across the province. As always, we are monitoring and responding to voicemails and emails regarding new programming referrals.

We continue to provide expert care to all residents of our Hospice home, with additional staff members supporting the residence by doing reception screening and kitchen duties when feasible.

Hospice is still seeking volunteers to screen visitors via intercom and prepare meals in the kitchen. We respect the individual needs and rights of each of our volunteers. Those who understand the risks involved and are willing to make the informed decision to volunteer at Hospice are asked to call Patti at (519) 281-9841.

We will post updates on our website as more information becomes available. Many of you have shared heartwarming messages of support for Hospice. We are so grateful for your words of kindness and encouragement at these trying times.

Wishing you all wellness,

Janet Groen
Executive Director

___________________________________________________

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

One of St. Joseph’s Hospice direct care staff is showing symptoms associated with COVID-19. The staff member lives with someone who has tested positive.

  • The staff member did not have any symptoms while working at St. Joseph’s Hospice.
  • Symptoms first appeared on Monday, March 23.
  • The last shift worked at St. Joseph’s Hospice was on Saturday, March 21.
  • All of the patients who currently reside at St. Joseph’s Hospice and their families have been notified.
  • Anyone who had direct contact with this individual has been notified and advised to self-monitor for symptoms, take their temperature twice daily, and self-isolate for 14 days.
  • All other staff and volunteers of Hospice are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms.
  • If symptoms of cough, sore throat, fever, muscle aches, etc. are being experienced, staff are asked to put on a mask, notify a co-worker, stop working, and self-isolate until symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Joseph’s Hospice has implemented our crisis response plan, which places the highest priority on the health and safety of our patients, families, volunteers, staff, and visitors.
  • The Direct Support Volunteer Role will be discontinued until further notice. Volunteers currently working as a DSV who are willing to work on reception to screen visitors should contact Patti Hay.
  • All visitors to St. Joseph’s Hospice continue to be screened (since March 14 at 3:00 pm). Hospice is following all protocols and directives of the Middlesex-London Health Unit as part of Ontario Health’s COVID-19 regional command table.
  • When contacted about this specific individual’s situation, Public Health did not recommend that we close Hospice, nor to treat as an outbreak.
  • The Middlesex-London Health Unit has advised that staff do not need to utilize masks and PPE. Hospice staff and volunteers should continue to follow IPAC recommendations regarding the use of PPE when providing direct care to patients and not consider patients to have a suspected case of COVID-19.
  • Joseph’s Hospice continues to maintain strict adherence to the highest level of hygiene practices for the safety of its patients, families, staff, and volunteers.
  • Joseph’s Hospice continues to disinfect its premises regularly as per PIDAC Guidelines.
  • Joseph’s Hospice is following the most up-to-date, recommended, safety measures and is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients, clients, volunteers, staff and visitors.
  • Hospice wishes the staff member a speedy recovery. We look forward to welcoming our team back to work from self-isolation.

___________________________________________________

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Dear friends of St. Joseph’s Hospice,

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly in Ontario, Hospice is taking actions to protect our patients, clients, volunteers, visitors, and staff.

Hospice plans to stay in touch with our community and support in every way that we can. Now more than ever, your patience and understanding are appreciated, as we adjust our operating practices according to recommendations from Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Below, please find relevant information that may pertain to you and your relationship with St. Joseph’s Hospice. Things are changing rapidly so this email has a lot of information. Please read it thoroughly.
To those with a loved one in our Hospice Residence:

Please be advised that every Hospice resident continues to receive compassionate and expert care, embracing their individual needs. Our essential staff, including full care teams, are at work supporting our residents. We have implemented cleaning enhancements throughout the facility and our kitchen remains open for residents.

However, in compliance with regulations, our doors will remain locked at all times. Any visitors are actively being screened via intercom from outside the building before being allowed access. We respect and empathize with the need to visit your loved ones, but if you are unwell, please postpone your visit.

We have restricted access to our great room and kitchen to volunteers and staff only.

To Our Community Clients:
Until further notice, Hospice has suspended all programs and services including visiting volunteers, support groups, wellness programs, complementary therapies, esthetics, pet therapy, music, in-person counselling and spiritual care.

We are also cancelling any group event, such as the April Easter Luncheon.

Some exceptions apply.

  • Our counsellors are connecting in with clients by phone. Some counselling will be offered by video conferencing, in urgent instances.
  • Spiritual care will continue in our residence as required.
  • While visiting volunteers will not be visiting clients in their homes, some will be calling by phone, especially to those who do not have extended family supports.

We will continue to accept and respond to referrals for community support in a timely manner. We will stay in contact with those individuals and schedule an intake interview when we are able to resume services.

To Our Valued Volunteers:
Volunteers are the backbone of many Hospice programs and services. Even in crisis, we rely on you to keep us running smoothly.

That being said, our primary concern is for your health and safety.

At this time, the message from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is to stay home. Research indicates that older adults are most vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19. Premier of Quebec François Legault stated outright on March 14 that people over the age of 70 specifically should not leave their homes until further notice unless absolutely necessary.

We encourage all of our volunteers to stay home, especially those over 70.

While many Hospice programs have been suspended, we are still in need of volunteers to screen visitors via intercom, prepare meals in the kitchen and assist clinical staff with direct support of residents.

We respect the individual needs and rights of each of our volunteers. Those who understand the risks involved and are still willing to make the informed decision to continue volunteering at Hospice are asked to call Patti at (226) 667-4351.

We are eternally grateful to each and every one of our volunteers, and look forward to welcoming you all back soon.

To Our Indispensable Donors:
St. Joseph’s Hospice has decided to postpone both its Bites & Bubbles and Handbags for Hospice Signature events. We are grateful for the overwhelming community support preparing for these two significant Hospice fundraisers. Extraordinary thanks to our Volunteer Planning Committees. We will advise you when these will be rescheduled.

Despite the looming stress and anxiety surrounding this virus and the implications it has had on us as a society, St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to care for the most vulnerable. We hope that despite these dire circumstances, we continue to be mindful of each other, support one another, and especially those who are living with a terminal illness.

Cyber Security:
At this time of global uncertainty, there are reports of cyber criminals taking advantage of public concern surrounding COVID-19 for their own benefit. These attacks may include email phishing attacks, bogus websites, and a combination of the two. Proceed with caution in clicking links or opening attachments in external emails that may be suspicious or pose a security risk. Please continue to use good cyber hygiene in our increasing online environment.

To Our Staff:
I want to personally thank all of our staff for their nimble responses and extraordinary efforts as we face many new challenges and pressures. This has not been easy on any of us. Thank you for your contributions.

To All:
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your patience and understanding.

Wishing you wellness,
Janet Groen
Executive Director

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211 Ontario can help you find support during COVID-19

211 Ontario is your primary source of information on government and community-based social services.
Things are changing quickly during this unusual time, but their team is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information about responses to the novel coronavirus.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed or anxious about COVID-19? Do you want information on mental health services to manage those feelings?
  • Are you experiencing financial pressure because of self-isolation measures?
  • Do you have questions about applying for Employment Insurance?
  • Do you need help getting groceries or running errands while you are at home sick or self-isolating?
Live Chat is available Monday to Friday from 7am to 9pm here.
An online Search Help Tool is available at 211ontario.ca.
And Community Navigators are ready to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in 150 languages. Just dial 2-1-1.
Are you a service provider? Contact 211 here with updates.