Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care Modifies Care During COVID

Few people give much thought to hospice care until they really need to. But COVID-19 is reshaping the way hospices facilitate connection for isolated patients, and families navigating grief and the end of life. Thanks to strong partnerships with hospitals, nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities in the community, Seasons Hospice and Palliative care is able to provide care wherever the patient calls home, and is fully equipped to continue doing so thanks to the integration of technology.

Seasons has been pushing the envelope and finding creative and compliant ways to facilitate connection and education through a number of avenues, including offering virtual bereavement support groups with bereavement experts for free to anyone experiencing grief. Seasons has been coordinating window visits, birthday parades, and fulfilling last wishes, despite limitations, for patients and families that are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.


Offering free online educational content to the public, including relevant Continuing Education courses for healthcare professionals, is another way that Seasons has overcome the restrictions resulting from COVID. Facebook Live discussions with bereavement experts and a hub of patient and family information and resources help family members to cope in a safe manner.

“As much as a crisis event, natural disaster, or pandemic presents a need for greater flexibility and creativity, it also helps to further reinforce the fundamental purpose of our role and responsibility – to provide compassionate care towards a good end-of-life journey for patients and families alike,” said Yelena Zatulovsky, VP of Patient Experience at Seasons.


Zatulovsky said that staff’s abilities to continue to deliver on this hospice promise during the COVID crisis have highlighted the very nature of their responsiveness, passion, and professional excellence. 

“COVID-19 allowed us to work more closely with our healthcare partners – such as the Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, and Hospital Systems – to unite together in a way that honored the needs of their residents, patients, the greater communities, and the staff,” said Zatulovsky.

This collaboration and partnership can be viewed as a positive to come out of the COVID experience. It meant helping to dispel the myths of hospice and about the dying process, and how much life and joy could still be reveled in,” said Zatulovsky, noting that COVID meant overcoming distancing physically, but increasing connection emotionally and spiritually. 

Zatulovsky noted that by the third week of March, Seasons had identified virtual platforms that were approved by both the Office of Civil Rights and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, allowing them to help families connect with their loved ones in their care. 

“By the following week, we initiated our first virtual grief support group for members of our community,” she said.  This eventually grew to 26 weekly grief groups across the country – some for widows, some for siblings, some for healthcare workers, some for children. 

Facebook Live events include topics relevant to the community at large, such as how to support your loved one who is a healthcare worker, or how to negotiate your needs as a loved one with the healthcare team despite being unable to visit your loved one directly.

“Our National Seasons COVID-19 Task Force created a repository of information (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for every discipline we employ and support,” said Zatulovsky.  Seasons coordinated a rapid response team, which supported live questions, committed to sending out a daily message to all staff, and initiated weekly town halls by site and region to ensure transparency, increased communication, and decreased anxiety. 

“Hospice patients and their families deserve a tranquil environment that honors every aspect of their being – mind, body, and soul – regardless of larger national events,” said Zatulovsky. 


The inability to have proximity and physical touch for patients and their families, or having to suspend the rituals of living and dying, can have dramatic effects on the psychological well-being of all parties. Rapid and encompassing adaptations that staff were able to incorporate into their daily care, helped support the hospice community and enhance the quality of life, according to Zatulovsky. 

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“The ability to mark milestones like birthdays for 103 year old patients, anniversaries for spouses who were unable to be in the same room together... echoed joy, and life, and hope, and unit,” she said.  “For those of us who choose to give our professional lives to the hospice and bereaved population, we share in a unique privilege, to help someone live in the face of dying, not simply to prepare someone to die well.”

Zatulovsky said that Seasons families have sent personal messages of gratitude to their nurses, physicians, social workers, chaplains, music therapists, art therapists, aides, bereavement counselors, liaisons, consultants, and leaders.  “Only time will tell what the greater psychological impact upon our communities will be, but we are committed to continuing to provide for those who need us, and will utilize the resources we have and those we developed to meet the individualized needs of them all,” she said.  

Zatulovsky noted that hospice providers often fall into serving the end of life and bereaved due to a personal experience – bad or good. 

“It is more a calling than a vocation,” she said. “We consider it a privilege and honor to journey with those eligible for the hospice benefit, their loved ones, and the bereaved community at large.”

She encourages anyone facing an end-of-life situation to seek support from hospice providers. 


“Hospice is a journey in living – living to your fullest, living in a way that honors who you are, living in a way that honors your relationships – until the last chapter is complete,” said Zatulovsky.  

Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care provides services in numerous states across the U.S., and provides care in many different towns across the state of Connecticut.