Missouri Hospice Programs Unable to Reach Individuals Needing End-of-Life Care as Nursing Homes Block Entry to Care Providers
Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care Association and Missouri Alliance for Home Care make joint statement on hospice patients in nursing facilities in Missouri.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - June 16, 2020 - PRLog -- Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care Association and Missouri Alliance for Home Care today expressed serious concerns in response to nursing homes across the state restricting the entry of hospice care professionals into facilities, leaving both COVID-19 patients and existing residents alone at the end-of life. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not have an in-facility hospice team, therefore patients and residents approaching death rely on external hospice programs to visit facilities and administer hospice care.
Since the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospice providers statewide have been denied access to nursing and assisted living facilities citing visitation guidance released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). While CMS recommendations advise nursing homes to "significantly restrict visitors and non-essential personnel, as well as restrict communal activities inside nursing homes" to protect seniors at the highest risk for complications from COVID-19, hospice providers should not be characterized as visitors since they represent a critical element of a patient's care team. In response to concerns raised by the hospice sector, CMS stated that hospice staff should be among those considered essential personnel and should be allowed access, and released revised CMS guidance on March 13, 2020.
"While we sympathize with the desire of long-term care administrators to protect residents, we cannot, however, continue to be treated as visitors," said Carol Hudspeth, Executive Director Missouri Alliance for Home Care. "While this revised guidance did help alleviate some of the denied entries, it has become clear that many nursing homes and assisted living facilities are continuing to turn away essential hospice provider staff."
Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care and Missouri Alliance for Home Care have sought assistance from the MO Department of Health in getting additional guidance out to our state's long-term care providers related to the denial of hospice staff entry, however no additional statewide guidance has been issued to date. As a result, hospice providers across the state of Missouri are struggling to care for, medically evaluate, or communicate with their patients residing in nursing homes.
"As leaders and healthcare providers, we applaud and support limiting access to nursing facilities to minimize COVID-19 exposure to our state's most vulnerable populations, however we feel the most important people affected by this decision, persons near death and their families, have been forgotten," added Jane Moore, CEO of the Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care Association. "Our state's hospice providers welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the nursing home and assisted living provider community to develop a solution, so no person is left to die alone."
Hospice is an elected benefit for individuals and families that choose to use it when facing death. Individuals on hospice in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have elected hospice for their end-of-life care. Hospice programs are made up of a multi-disciplinary team of medical professionals trained in infection control and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care Association
Missouri Alliance for Home Care