The National Hospice Foundation has launched a grant program to help hospices acquire necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation is an affiliate of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
Demand for PPE has risen astronomically across all health care settings due to the outbreak. Accessing PPE has proven to be among the most significant challenges for hospices during the pandemic. Providers have struggled to protect patients and staff in areas of greatest vulnerability in the face of product shortages and rapidly rising prices.
“We are grateful to be in a position to offer needed funding for PPE. Our members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide critically important care in their communities; they must have the proper equipment to keep their staff and their patients safe. The PPE grants are an important part of NHPCO’s comprehensive approach to responding to this public health crisis,” said Edo Banach, President and CEO of NHPCO and the National Hospice Foundation.
Hospices have been hard pressed to obtain essential products such as N95 masks, gowns, face shields, gloves and eye protection, as well as COVID-19 testing kits and supplies and cleaning products. Meanwhile, prices on some of these items have increased exponentially.
The shortages are so extreme that many providers have advised staff to sew together makeshift masks out of cloth or are allowing staff to use bandanas to cover the nose and mouth. None of these materials are as effective as an actual surgical or N95 mask, but evidence suggests that they do offer some measure of protection.
State and federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been distributing some N95 and surgical masks and other supplies to health care organizations in states hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, including New York and Washington state. However, hospitals and nursing homes have taken priority in the distribution of those materials.
The foundation’s grant program is being financed by the Cambia Health Foundation, a nonprofit subsidiary of Cambia Health, among other donors who raised a total of $55,000 for the program. To date, 12 hospices have been awarded these grants, receiving up to $2,500 each to purchase PPE. The foundation and NHPCO expect to continue to offer the grants through the summer months.