News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Hospice continues mission in face of pandemic

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still approaching the end of their lives for unrelated reasons — and Hospice of Redmond is still at work serving them.

The organization, which serves Sisters Country as well as Redmond, is continuing its mission, adapting to ever-evolving conditions. Hospice announced last week that it is cancelling its annual grief support program, Camp Sunrise, held at Suttle Lake west of Sisters in June.

Maureen Krebs, communications director and veterans outreach coordinator for Hospice of Redmond, told The Nugget that the organization is following national Hospice guidelines to provide care for its clients.

There are several aspects to Hospice support. The physical aspect of Hospice care focuses on palliative measures to ensure comfort during the last days or months. Social workers and a bereavement coordinator provide emotional support for the entire family — and for an extended period of time after bereavement.

The physical care continues to be provided by nurses, who go into senior care facilities or the patient’s home to provide services. The other aspects of care are more challenging due to the health and safety requirements of the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The work is always vital, and becomes more so in a situation where many people are distanced from families.

“Taking care of these people at this time when they may not be able to see their families — it’s critical that we continue caring for them, that we continue that relationship,” Krebs said.

In some cases, social workers and a chaplain can connect with Hospice patients by phone and Facetime to maintain contact and connection.

Other outreach programs have been forced into abeyance.

The Transitions Program is a pre-hospice program.

“It’s for anyone who has a life-limiting illness,” Krebs told The Nugget last year. “It’s a non-medical program, so it’s really about resources.”

Transitions Program participants, who are not charged for services, also receive emotional and spiritual support as desired, as staff helps connect them with resources that can make their life coping with their condition easier and more satisfying. The program can also connect families with respite care.

That work has been put on hold.

“Because it’s a non-medical program, we can no longer see those people face-to-face,” Krebs explained.

She is working on ways to stay in contact with Transitions clients, because isolation is a problem that they were already facing and the current situation threatens to exacerbate the condition, creating what Krebs characterized as “a spiral of isolation.”

“It affects them,” she said. “That’s something I’m working with our team on. We’re coming up with creative ways to serve if we can’t see them face-to-face.”

One of Krebs’ most beloved duties is reaching out to the veteran community in Central Oregon.

“I typically see our veteran patients and veterans in the community,” said Krebs, herself a Marine veteran. “That has completely stopped.”

The disruption of the Hospice program is tough on patients who may not have family in the community and rely on the connection with Hospice staff and volunteers. It’s also hard on the volunteers. Krebs recalled talking with volunteer coordinator Jill Wolfe.

“She’s seeing some of our volunteers struggle — because they love what they do,” Krebs said.

If the community would like to support Hospice of Redmond, follow them on Facebook ( or Instagram (@HospiceofRedmond) and comment on posts with positive messages for nurses and staff serving the community. Send cards for Hospice of Redmond nurses to 732 SW 23rd St., Redmond, OR 97756.

And the staff continues to adapt and work as effectively as possible to serve their vulnerable community.

As Krebs said, “We’re doing everything in our power to support these individuals in any way that we can.”

For more information visit or call 541-548-7483.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/13/2024 22:03