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Hospice center faces challenges during the pandemic

Hospice Care
Posted at 9:11 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 16:22:01-05

Kern County's only locally founded non-profit hospice center has served the community for over two decades but this year they're working through some major changes as they shift some of their operations due to COVID-19. 23ABC's Kylie Walker explains how Hoffman Hospice in Southwest Bakersfield continues to help serve despite the setback.

On a normal year Cindy Harper, a longtime volunteer with Hoffman Hospice, serves as a companion to terminally ill patients during their final months.

"My heart goes out to them because they're even more lonely now and it's hard," said Harper. "We all have gifts and talents that we can share with others and sometimes it may just be our time, it may just be a listening ear, it may just be holding somebody's hand."

But now due to the pandemic Beth Hoffman, the co-founder of the non-profit, says they had to cut their volunteers from 85 down to just 3.

"Most of our volunteers have had family members that have been associated with Hoffman Hospice. They've seen the value of this kind of program so they want to give back and they just can't do that right now."

This is exactly why Harper chooses to give back. She said losing her mother to cancer in 1994 is what led her to start volunteering.

"When she was diagnosed as terminal she chose hospice as her alternative healthcare."

She said she feels honored that those in their final stages choose to have her by their side.

"If you can walk that road with your mother you can surely be a blessing to others."

But during this time, the staff has had to find other ways to connect with their patients other than in person, including going digital and using Zoom and Facetime for phone calls. But the hospice center knows it just not the same.

"For not only the patients being alone but the caregivers of those patients not being able to visit because of these restrictions is just very sad," said Hoffmann.

But Hoffmann said while they've had to cut almost all of their volunteers they're still able to keep their staff, which includes a team of nurses and practitioners along with social workers.

"Our commitment level is still there. It's just we had to find ways to get creative ways to be helpful."

And once restrictions lift with this pandemic Hofmann said they will start allowing their volunteers back. So if this sounds like something you would be interested in down the line, you can visit the Hoffmann Hospice website.