Suncoast Hospice Medical Director Jasmin Jerez-Marte, MD

In the world of hospice, care often can’t wait. Visits can’t be postponed and many times there is a sense of urgency. When a nurse at the bedside needs to consult with a physician or a visual is needed to triage a patient, telehealth can provide an instant connection.

Since mid-March, Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, has offered more than 2,000 telehealth visits to patients. Both patients and providers alike quickly embraced the opportunity for virtual visits.

“It is remarkable how what could be seen as a less personal approach to patient care has actually become very close and personal,” says Jasmin Jerez-Marte, MD, HMDC, Suncoast Hospice medical director. “Without it, many patients may not have otherwise seen their care team.”

While Suncoast Hospice had been exploring and testing the use of telehealth, the rise of COVID-19 created the need for widespread implementation. A significant amount of virtual visits have been with patients in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and Suncoast Hospice care centers. As a result of restrictions put in place to protect patients, many care team members are limited in how they are able to interact with patients who are not imminent or significantly symptomatic. Virtual visits have allowed patients to stay connected not only to their physicians, but also the social worker and spiritual care teams.

Families have also benefited through telehealth. Video calls facilitated by Suncoast Hospice staff have been able to keep families in communication with each other and the care team.

Community-based services, such as counselling and palliative care, have also adapted to using telehealth visits. It has offered a way for patients to continue receiving care at home, including speech, occupational and music therapies, while limiting traffic through their home and reducing chances of exposure to COVID.

Dr. Jerez-Marte adds, “Telehealth has been very reassuring to patients and families, both at home and in care facilities.”

Learn more about how Suncoast Hospice can help you or a loved one improve their quality of life through our specialized care and support.