By Michelle Moskowitz
An unsettling and stark reality of COVID-19 is that many people who are at the end of their natural lives are now forced to die alone.
“Because of the pandemic, hospitals have revised their policies and are not permitting visitors, which means that many patients will die without their loved ones surrounding them and without the ability to say goodbye,” said Dr. Donna Coletti, Palliative Care Scholar-in-Residenc at Kanarek Center for Palliative Care Egan School of Nursing, Fairfield University who also has a private medical practice of palliative care.
Palliative care focuses on improving one’s quality of life by alleviating symptoms of a life-threatening illness and/or reducing psychosocial distress, providing a holistic approach to support the person physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Fairfield County House, a local non-profit organization which provides 24-hour care to individuals receiving hospice care, is focused on providing ‘compassionate palliative care’ to the front lines in the wake of COVID—and has been doing so since it opened its doors in 2018.
Dr. Coletti serves as a Board Member at FCH, which has the overarching mission to be a warm, welcoming residence for people at the end of life with top-notch professional care combined with tender-hearted attention, enveloped in a place that feels very much like home.
“While there is much concern for those suffering with COVID-19, at FCH we remember and support the families whose loved ones are dying of causes other than the virus,” said Loretta Lacci, BSN, RN, PN and Executive Director at FCH.
The house, which has 6 private bedrooms ensuite with a patio was designed to allow family members to enter directly into their loved one’s room— without needing access through the common areas of the house. The open-air architectural design, which invites an abundant amount of natural light, also includes a large full suite for family members to stay when visiting from out of town, as well as a sanctuary and garden.
Margarete Catalano, a resident at FCH from Greenwich shared similar sentiments. “My family and friends are my life and their love and care give me strength, comfort, stability and much joy.” “They are helping me face the most difficult time in my life and am so grateful they can visit me here.”
“I don’t know what I would have done if my husband had been in any other facility,” said Donna Kelley, the wife of a current FCH resident. “My heart goes out to all the families that cannot do so because of quarantine regulations.”
FCH is licensed by the state of CT and works with all local hospitals, community referral sources, and hospice agencies. They are dedicated to filling the gap in the delivery of care for those receiving hospice services.
“To bear witness to the meaningful time spent between residents, their families and our staff has been a great blessing,” said Lacci. “We encourage joy in sadness and laughter in sorrow but believe that all those that come through our doors still have a lot of living left to do while here.”
Visit fairfieldcountyhouse.org or call 203-907-7444 for more information.