Leadership Lessons from the Field: July 2020 – Words of Advice from Leaders on the Front Lines

July 23, 2020
Telemedicine and health care concept with a young man and a doctor on computer screen

We are grateful that we still are a resource for our community and that all of our staff want to continue to work even those who are going in and serving our COVID patients.

Patients are concerned about dying alone if they go into the hospital and they’re really looking for us (hospice) to be there.

It’s not about us and what we think, it’s about what families want at this point of time.

Some things we have done and learned:

Continuing to provide care and meet challenging needs

  • Listening to the need of facilities (hospitals and nursing homes) and coordinating with them. Speed to care became essential- moving patients who are eligible to a different location and right level of care.
  • Created a unit for COVID patients. Picked a free standing, single floor building that would allow window visitation.

Telehealth/virtual connections for caring

  • Perfect is really the enemy of good. High touch service is perfectly delivered in person. Telehealth is better than not being there at all. Not being there at all was unacceptable.
  • There are a lot of opportunities to deliver care, you have to decide if you’re in the horse and buggy business or the transportation business.
  • Telehealth is a tool. It’s enabled us to be there immediately for patients and families because we serve rural areas.
  • Webinars and grief counseling via FaceTime and other apps
  • Respecting Choices Paradigm facilitations by FaceTime and by GoToMeeting has been surprisingly effective.


  • Rather than furlough employees, we developed a resource pool of available employees and used them in other areas of the business.
  • We’ve assigned dedicated staff to the larger facilities so that staff are not coming and going from different facilities. Rather than having a separate admissions team, we switched to a generalist model so that the staff member can do the admission as well as provide the care.
  • Social media campaigns like, “Where Are YOU Working” and letting teams post things on Twitter and on Facebook and on our internet in their protected gear and having a lot of interchange that way has been a best practice. It lets people feel that their team mates are still out there.
  • Communication is essential, nature abhors a vacuum and it will fill it, so your staff have to be able to feel comfortable and be present and know that you have PPE for them and that if they have concerns they’re hearing from you.

The information contained in this was shared widely during the 4/28/2020 CMS Home Health and Hospice Stakeholder Call. Susan Ponder-Stansel is President and CEO of Community Hospice and Palliative Care in Jacksonville, FL.

The transcript and recording can be found HERE.