VITAS Healthcare announced today it is launching a nationwide grief helpline on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care is opening up access to its nationwide network of bereavement and psychosocial experts to support anyone in the country suffering from grief after the death of a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The VITAS Grief Helpline also is available to members of the healthcare community who need emotional support related to grief, death and loss as a result of their experiences on the COVID-19 front lines. All healthcare workers can take advantage of an online support event led by experienced VITAS counselors. Those in need may call the VITAS Grief Helpline at 866-800-4707 between 4 pm and 10 pm EDT beginning Tuesday, May 26. They can also visit VITAS.com/helpline. The service continues through May 29. Front-line healthcare workers should self-identify when they call to be connected with specialized support services.
“As healthcare workers who specialize in support for the dying, we have unique insight into what family members and healthcare professionals are experiencing,” said Joseph Shega, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for VITAS Healthcare. “We can help the country deal with the widespread feelings of grief and loss caused by this pandemic.”
With more than 40 years of experience providing end-of-life care, VITAS has the proven expertise to support people who are grieving, particularly during national tragedies. For example, VITAS provided support for those impacted by the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, the 2018 California wildfires, and school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida.
VITAS’ nearly 50 counselors are highly trained grief specialists and their expertise is now available to anyone in need, including a dedicated virtual support group for front-line healthcare workers. Other virtual support groups over the phone and via teleconference platforms are available year-round for general grief, spouses, veterans, LGBT+, young adults, children, Spanish-speaking audiences, and others at VITAS.com/SupportGroups.
“When we saw healthcare workers taking their own lives as a result of the extraordinary tragedies they have witnessed, we knew that it was critical to open our arms to those who were pressed into active service during the pandemic,” said Dr. Shega.
The VITAS Grief Helpline is part of a continuum of bereavement services offered by the organization. This includes counseling for the loved ones of a hospice patient during the patient’s life and in the months following a death, home visits from bereavement specialists (chaplains, social workers and volunteers), connection to community grief therapists, and Memory Bears sewn by volunteers using a loved one’s clothing or other fabric. More information and grief resources may be found at vitas.com/grief.