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LEHIGH VALLEY HEALTH NETWORK Hospice volunteers connect

The volunteer branch of Lehigh Valley Hospice offers patients and their families access to a variety of non-medical services. These services include home visits, pet therapy, office chores, companion visits to the hospice inpatient unit and assistance with family bereavement support.

COVID-19 has brought face-to-face interactions between volunteers and clients to a halt.

However, under the direction of Lehigh Valley Hospice Coordinator Lynn Schiavone, volunteers are maintaining connections. Eighty-eight Lehigh Valley Hospice volunteers currently assist hospice patients and their families. Since visits were suspended in March, volunteers have remained active by packing admission kits, writing letters and making phone calls, cutting lawns and dropping off groceries.

Concerned community members and volunteers donate handmade afghans, lap robes, washcloths and stuffed animals. One talented individual paints greeting cards for the families of those residing in the inpatient unit and several others construct “fidget” aprons for patients suffering from dementia.

Schiavone is also sensitive to the needs of the volunteers.

To assist those experiencing feelings of panic and isolation, she arranges weekly Zoom meetings focusing on COVID-19 related concerns or to tap into the talents of her volunteers. Presentations by a volunteer poet and a cellist were two of the highlights.

Most recently, volunteers attended one of several infection control in-services.

Hospice Education Coordinator Ruth Fillebrown walked attendees through safety measures that everyone should practice to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Masked and seated at well-spaced, individual tables, volunteers received clear instructions on best precautionary practices. Fillebrown stressed “We [Lehigh Valley health care workers] have a lot of COVID patients and no one has gotten sick” because safety precautions have been followed. She emphasized the importance of avoiding crowds and practicing social distancing and demonstrated the correct way to put on, wear and remove masks.

Participants were then given the opportunity to practice thorough handwashing. A brief question and answer period followed the presentation.

COVID-19 has forced hospice administrators and volunteers to find creative ways to stay positive and to connect with patients.

The Lehigh Valley Hospice organization is meeting that challenge. The professional and volunteer staffs continue to prove being out of sight does not mean being out of touch.

Lehigh Valley Hospice is headquartered at 2024 Lehigh St., Suite 100, Allentown. More information may be obtained by visiting https://www.lvhn.org/locations/lehigh-valley-hospice-lehigh-street or calling 610-402-7800.

ABOVE: To keep volunteers connected and informed, Lehigh Valley Hospice Coordinator Lynn Schiavone hosts weekly Zoom meetings and recently organized several infection control in-services.
RIGHT: From left to right, volunteers Rich Myerson and Sharon Antrim listen to Hospice Education Coordinator Ruth Fillebrown explain safety procedures which are helping to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Hospice Education Coordinator Ruth Fillebrown demonstrates the proper use of face shields, masks and goggles.
Volunteer Diane Baldovsky pays serious attention during an infection control in-service. PRESS PHOTOS BY BEVERLY SPRINGER
This crocheted bunny is one example of the many handmade articles donated by volunteers and community members for distribution to hospice patients.