A Message from Katherine Krause
I want you to know that we are committed to taking the necessary steps to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19. As you can imagine, our needs are changing constantly, and we are making decisions on a daily basis in order to keep our patients, clients, volunteers and staff healthy. Following are the steps we are taking to safely carry out our mission to serve our most vulnerable neighbors, the elderly and ill.
We are staying apprised of the current situation so that we can continue to meet the needs of our patients in Hospice and Palliative Care. Our team is in regular communication with local health departments, CMS and partnering health care providers to follow changing care protocols to meet the dynamic needs of terminally ill patients.
We are, however, facing some of the challenges all health care entities are encountering, which is a shortage of much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We are stocked through this week, but we are anticipating that we will be impacted by the shortage along with all of our community partners. We have reached out to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council to apply for more PPE in this urgent time. We are also making efforts to conserve PPE as much as possible by limiting the number of staff in the field where we can, only using PPE as directed by the CDC and ensuring that we accurately screen all patients and referrals. Our wonderful hospice volunteers are now working diligently and quickly to get us hundreds of cotton masks that can be worn to ensure the health of both our employees and patients should we run out of surgical masks, which we do anticipate will happen at some point. The CDC has allowed for contingency plans such as this, and we are preparing daily for these challenges we may face.
Additionally, we have made many adjustments to our staffing policies. As a health care organization, we have implemented additional employee screening tools for all staff that will require any ill or potentially exposed employees to stay home for the health of the community. Also, we have drastically reduced the number of staff working in offices and those who can work from home are doing so. With that in mind, we are grateful for your patience and support as we move into this new business practice.
Meals on Wheels Operations:
Judge Clay Jenkins announced on 3/22 the Shelter in Place mandate for Dallas County. VNA is considered an essential business and we will continue to innovatively provide food and safety checks for our vulnerable senior clients.
We began delivering shelf-stable meals to clients last week and will continue to distribute these non-perishable food boxes as we receive them. Thanks to the generosity of donors like the Perot Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the Moody Foundation, the Dallas Maverick’s Mavs Foundation, and HEB we were able to act swiftly to obtain large quantities of shelf-stable meals to feed clients during this crisis.
Beginning next Monday, March 30, we will transition to a combination of hot, frozen and shelf stable meal delivery. All clients will receive notification of the new schedule. We will utilize VNA staff only for in person deliveries.
Beginning Monday, April 6, we will utilize the mobile app for “virtual delivery” where volunteers will have the ability to call clients and provide client feedback. In order to effectively call and check-in with clients, ONLY volunteers using the app to call clients and provide feedback via the app will be to serve in this capacity. Not only does the mobile app contain client names and phone numbers, it has a feedback mechanism where volunteers can input client needs that will be viewed in real time by our staff. This is the most efficient way we can ensure our vulnerable senior clients can be reminded to eat their meal, check on their wellbeing and follow up on any needs in a timely manner. Paper and/or emailed manifests will not be used for virtual deliveries.
If you are not already using the mobile app, please download and start using it today. It’s user friendly and easy to use. Please click on the link below to watch a video on how to use the mobile app. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKuidTH76Hc
Volunteers and staff will continue to deliver meals this week and are asked to please be sure to follow universal precautions with hygiene (washing your hands before and after delivering meals and using hand sanitizer in between), screening for illness and travel risk, and social distancing (6 feet or more). We are providing hand sanitizer at drop sites as we have it available. As a volunteer, if you already have access to hand sanitizer (60% alcohol or greater), please use your own supply to help us conserve this precious commodity. In efforts to keep our clients and drivers safe, volunteers are asked to limit all physical contact when a meal is delivered.
The outpouring of support from our community is truly a bright spot in such a confusing and difficult time. I have heard from so many of you asking how you can support seniors and VNA at this time. We have two critical needs:
Donations to continue our work in an ever-evolving environment where need is great and the cost of goods and services are increasing. It costs $6.50 per day to feed a senior.
Volunteers to serve in a variety of ways in the coming weeks and months.Hospice Volunteer Interest Form Become A Meals on Wheels Volunteer
I am continually inspired by the dedication and generosity of our compassionate volunteers, donors and staff. Thank you for all you do to deliver hope to our senior neighbors in need. I wish you all good health and peace during this time.
President and CEO
Following are some good resources:
Updated information from the CDC on Coronavirus in the United States can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
The most recent information about Coronavirus in Texas may be found at: https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/.
Information from the World Health Organization may be found at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
Proper handwashing protocol may be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/wash-your-hands-poster-english-508.pdf