Contributed by Betty Morales, Taylor Casper & Kelly Williams, BBH Volunteer Department

As the world changes around us, the Big Bend Hospice Volunteer Department staff has continued to pursue new ways to provide valuable support to our patients and their families, with safety as the top priority.

Through online platforms like Zoom, volunteers were connected through video meetings and virtual in-service training. This also opened the door for virtual support to patient-families, allowing activities like “virtual visits” from animal therapy teams.

While the world moved to online platforms, consideration also needed to be made on how to serve those families that did not have the technology to engage digitally.

Comfort Callers check on caregivers every week. These volunteers have truly provided “comfort” and support, with phone conversations growing longer in recent months; which indicates this may be the only socialization some caregivers have during the pandemic.

Patients in facilities and their families have been some of the most heavily impacted by COVID. To support them, patients and caregivers are connected to volunteers who can provide phone call support or become pen pals through letter writing.

Spiritual Care Volunteers continue providing spiritual support through calls offering prayers, scripture reading, and sending cards with messages of hope. This has been a great comfort to anxious caregivers and lonely patients.

Numerous volunteers offer support through running errands, and picking up and delivering essential items like groceries while maintaining social distancing.

At Big Bend Hospice’s Dozier Hospice House, volunteers have slowly returned as greeters, including members of the AmeriCorps Volunteer program. They help maintain safety procedures by screening visitors and limiting the number of guests.

They have been key to keeping staff, patients, and families safe and allowing the Dozier House to keep its doors open to visitors.

A small but committed team of volunteers have even returned to the bedside of patients in the house that were alone, anxious, and needed support.

A few volunteers have made in-home visits on a case-by-case basis.

A Jefferson County Big Bend Hospice volunteer, Andrew Creel, was assigned to a patient that was isolated and who had no support during the day.

“During this time of wide-spread isolation, we both really appreciate our time together,” says Creel. “We enjoy reminiscing and sharing things we did when we were younger.”

As the Big Bend community learns more about this virus, Big Bend Hospice will continue to meet with infection specialists to review processes, make changes, and provide the necessary protective equipment to keep everyone as safe as possible; this includes amazing Hospice Volunteers who continue to say, “we just want to serve!”