COVID-19’s Impact on Hospice Referral Relationships


Hospices across the country are seeing a decrease in referrals since the COVID-19 outbreak, even while hospices are trying to reach out to partners to explain their coronavirus protocols. Referrals are what keep hospices alive, and they have been working hard at building relationships prior to this pandemic.

“It is estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy at least $2.7 trillion dollars, that would include hospice and home health,” Shelley Cartwright, CEO of APEX Hospice and Palliative Care in Illinois, told Hospice News. “As the number of individuals afflicted with the virus continues to spiral upward, we have begun to see a decrease in hospice referrals. We have made our referring partners aware of our coronavirus policy, as well as our daily emergency preparedness plans that will allow us to continue to admit new patients.”

“Now is the time for hospices to establish relationships with primary care physicians, assisting them to assure their patients with chronic illnesses are safe. Not because of tainted relationships with referral sources or the inability to connect with referral sources through e-mail, telephone, and social platforms, but because patients and their families are in fear,” Cartwright said. “Creativity and communication will be the key moving forward to maintain hospice referral and admissions. During the pandemic hospices can offer support to hospitals, physician offices and skilled nursing facilities. We could designate PPE for our hospice personnel and donate a portion to skilled nursing facilities. Our best tool currently is that our agency has not made cutbacks that would affect the culture or quality that hospice care lends to patients and their families.”

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