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South Coast Hospice Organization Helps Families Dealing With Double Burden Of Loss And Coronavirus


It’s been a tough time for many people on the Central and South Coasts who have been dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

But for some, that experience is compounded with having a terminally ill family member, or having to deal with an unexpected death.

Hospice organizations have scrambled to come up with ways to help people deal with it.

Niles Sterner of Santa Barbara says he faced that exact situation with his family, right in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

His paternal grandmother, Ada "Catherine" Sterner, passed away March 30th after a long battle with dementia. The family turned to hospice care to help her and her husband during the final weeks. Sterner says that losing a loved one on top of the crisis was a very difficult situation.

Hospice of Santa Barbara has stepped up to try to meet the challenges created by coronavirus-related restrictions. The Reverend Kristen Rohm is the Spiritual Care Counselor for the nonprofit organization.

She says they’ve taken their services online to try to provide critical support for the community.

Sterner says the service for his paternal grandmother was difficult. His brother, who lives on the East Coast, was unable to fly out. And, because of the stay and home orders, only a handful of people were able to be on hand.

Hospice of Santa Barbara is trying to help people facing that type of issue. They’ve also produced a series of online videos which address hospice care  and other topics, including supporting isolated relatives during the crisis, and speaking to children about the situation.

Reverend Rohm says many families are taking a non-traditional approach to honoring their loved ones who passed. They are proceeding with small funeral services, with the intent of holding larger events when the coronavirus crisis has eased, and people can safely gather.

Sterner says his grandmother was very practical, and would have understood the way they handled things. In their case, they will hold a bigger remembrance event when it’s safe.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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