VITAS Celebrates Hospice Volunteers During National Volunteer Week 2020

April 20, 2020

Paw Pals volunteer Julie shows dog volunteers Kermit and Buster how to look in the window

VITAS Paw Pals® Julie brought her dogs to a Florida assisted living facility for a window visit.

MIAMI, FL – VITAS Healthcare celebrates National Volunteer Week 2020 (April 19-25) by honoring its resilient hospice volunteers. As the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, VITAS applauds these volunteers for their creative and committed efforts to support healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, 4,764 active volunteers performed 333,442 hours of work to support VITAS programs around the country. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require volunteer hours to equal at least 5% of a provider’s total patient care hours.

“Volunteers have been central to hospice care since the foundation of the discipline, and during times of crisis, their continued commitment helps to ensure the comfort and dignity of our patients in their homes, assisted living facilities, and inpatient units,” said Robin Fiorelli, senior director of bereavement and volunteer services for VITAS. “Whether they’re sewing and delivering cloth masks to help protect our patients’ families and caregivers, checking in on our patients via phone, or sharing their skills and time in support of hospice care, VITAS volunteers are worthy of our admiration this week and all year long.”

A graphic showing the total number of volunteers, patients served, and an average of 37.7 volunteer hours per patient

VITAS supports hospice-eligible patients and their families in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Volunteers have given their time and talent in new ways throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Members of the American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN) and the Lambda Psi Nu sorority for practicing nurses have committed to making check-in calls to VITAS patients and families, ensuring their needs are met by routine interdisciplinary team visits.
  • VITAS sewing volunteers are creating cloth masks for patients’ family members to reduce the risk of viral transmission during visits to their loved ones in VITAS inpatient units. More than 8,000 have been crafted and distributed as of this week.
  • Unable to conduct face-to-face visits, Paw Pals® pet volunteers are coordinating with local assisted living facilities to greet residents behind the safety of their windows.
  • Other volunteers continue to write cards and notes to patients, assuring them that they are not forgotten even as visitation restrictions and social distancing measures prevent in-person contact with loved ones.

Become a hospice volunteer.