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South Coast Hospice Finding New Ways To Provide Support In The Pandemic

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(courtesy of Hospice of Santa Barbara)
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Grief and loss have touched so many of our lives over the past year.

A South Coast Hospice has been finding ways to support those coping with life-threatening illnesses, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Five months ago, while many of us were gearing up for the challenges of perhaps a quieter Thanksgiving than usual, John Dowling was being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia.

He was hospitalized for two months, and he says that the Hospice of Santa Barbara were helpful in providing "stellar" support, which continued once he was back home. 

He says that the Hospice of Santa Barbara have been invaluable in helping him since his diagnosis. 

"There's counselling that I find really helpful and they have people who go shopping for me," he told KCLU. 

"It means a lot to me. It's quite significant in my life. They are always there for me, 24/7, and have been a real integral part in my dealing with this situation," explained Dowling. 

"I don't know if anyone really knows how to talk about the emotional experience that you go through when you're diagnosed with something that extreme," he said. 

"With the COVID situation, it's very difficult for me to get out because my immune system is so compromised. So they're really stepping in an helping me in every way they can." 

John says that isolation is something he's come up against as a result of the pandemic, but the Hospice has been a regular point of contact and helped to understand his needs.  

He says that he doesn't know how he would have survived the last few months without their support. 

The care is free to anyone who needs it.

Tianna Swede is the patient care services manager at Hospice of Santa Barbara and she says they've had to be "very nimble" in adjusting the ways they provide care during the pandemic. 

For instance, says Swede, volunteers can no longer drive patients to their medical appointments or attend the appointments to take notes. 

Instead, the Hospice has arranged Lyft drivers to take them and then taken notes during their appointments via video call.