As death toll rises, Hospice Savannah prepares wing for COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Since the outbreak hit the Coastal Empire, Hospice Savannah has cared for two COVID-19 patients at home.

Now that the death toll is on the rise CEO Dr. Kathleen Benton said they will begin accepting patients inside their facility.

“We need to be here for our community as we have for 41 years and that means meeting them where they are at,” said Benton. “Right now they are at an infectious disease, a viral crisis we need to be able to take care of all patients and we need to do it up to the same standards we’ve always set ourselves.”

Benton said as soon as next week patients that can’t recover from COVID-19 will spend their final days inside Hospice Savannah. Nurses like Tiffany Fordham plan to make that process as comfortable as possible.

“A lot of it is making sure we can still provide that good quality loving care safely for both the patients and our families at the end of the day,” said Fordham, a Charge Nurse for Hospice Savannah.

Over the past few weeks Benton said they’ve invested nearly $50,000 in protective equipment (PPE) for staff and visitors.

They also implemented protcols requiring each person working in the isolation wing to enter a clean room, change into designated scrubs, and then repeat that process at the end of their shift.

“It’s to protect our families and our loved ones we aren’t carrying it home on our shoes and on our scrub pants,” said Fordham. “We’ve been able to actually shower and clean ourselves so that we are safe for everyone else

When a patient is actively dying or in what staff call the “eleventh hour” Hospice Savannah will allow one family member to be by their side. Each isolation room also has an exterior entrance so the family member doesn’t have to go into the main building.

“We can’t leave humanity out of hospice we are not capable of doing good care without it,” said Benton. “Dying in isolation just does not embrace what it means to be human.”

Benton said Hospice Savannah is a nonprofit and cares deeply about serving the community. She said her staff will provide the best care as they’ve done for the past 41 years.

“You are not just another person you’re someone who we want to really love on and make sure you’re comfortable in however long you have left here,” said Fordham.

Benton said they are also partnering with Savannah College of Art and Design to provide virtual options for families who want to be there when their loved ones passes away. She said they’re using platforms like Zoom to call in family remotely.

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