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Blog: Stories and Insight

5 Questions with President/CEO about COVID-19



Mary Ann BoccoliniQ: South Jersey hospitals, health care systems and other organizations have encountered numerous challenges the last six months. What has been the biggest challenge for Samaritan?

I am proud to say that we succeeded at our biggest challenge and provided uninterrupted services in the comfort of home for our hospice, palliative medicine, and primary care patients and their families throughout our 5-county service area. At the onset of the pandemic in March, our medical staff and clinical teams responded quickly to establish a Samaritan task force, secure necessary personal protective equipment, launch a telemedicine platform, transition one of our Inpatient Centers to care for COVID-positive hospice patients, and more for the safety and protection of our patients and families, staff, volunteers and community.

Q: What steps has Samaritan taken to make sure your most vulnerable residents are safe and healthy?

The hospice, palliative and primary care services we provide enable most of the patients we serve to stay in the comfort of their own homes. For some, home is a senior living community.  Our medical staff and clinical teams continue to provide expert care and supportive services during essential home visits, following all guidelines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health.  Appropriate staff have been regularly tested.   Care has also been provided as appropriate through our telemedicine platform.  In addition to providing personal protective equipment for our staff as well as our patients and their families,  we continue to provide education on proper safety precautions.

Q: How is Samaritan bouncing back from the last six months?

Rather than bouncing back, Samaritan has continued its 40-year legacy of service for the people of South Jersey. The services we provide for people who are living with the effects of aging and advanced illness are essential, not optional. Since Samaritan was founded right here in Southern NJ as one of the country’s first hospices, we have been recognized for quality and innovation in continuing to offer more care options, including our new primary care at home and expanded palliative medicine services for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Q: How has the pandemic affected the way Samaritan handles operations? Have protocols changed since the pandemic started?

One very significant example stands out among the many ways that COVID affected our Samaritan operations. Through the extraordinary compassion of our staff, we were able to transition all 12 rooms at our Mount Holly Inpatient Center to care for COVID-positive hospice patients exclusively. Our compassionate staff made it possible to care for more than 120 hospice patients, and developed innovative and resourceful ways for families to safely visit their loved ones, sometimes after having gone months without seeing one another. Our collective hearts go out to all those who’ve been affected by COVID.  To  support them, our counselors have developed extensive ways to help relieve stress, anxiety, and offer grief support through music therapy, meditation and other resources available on our website.

Q: Is Samaritan worried for a second wave? If so, are they prepared for a potential second wave?

Like others, we are very concerned about a second wave of the virus, and at the same time, we are fully prepared. Our medical staff and care teams quickly launched our emergency preparedness plans and adapted protocols to the COVID virus to insure the safety of our patients, families, and staff.  In fact, with our expanding care options and services, Samaritan stands ready to help more people in more ways.