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Amid coronavirus, hospice connects out-of-school kids with elderly residents in letter-writing campaign

The project 'connects residents with the outside community' and gives kids 'something positive to focus on'

As schools and businesses across the country face weeks-long closures and hospitals are forced to isolate patients amid new coronavirus concerns, people are finding creative ways to keep morale high.

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Hospice company Heart of Hospice in Acadiana, Louisiana, is doing just that by connecting students who are out of school and isolated nursing home patients by letter.

Children drawing pictures for nursing home residents. (Photo: Heart of Hospice-Acadiana)

"The mental wellbeing of our nursing home and assisted living residents is just as vital as their physical wellbeing," Heart of Hospice-Acadiana Director of Business Development Ashley Brinkhaus said in a Tuesday statement.

Drawing of a mermaid by Lana Lavergne, age 5, for local nursing home and assisted living residents in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Heart of Hospice)

"We understand a letter or a picture does not take the place of an in-person visit, but it still connects residents with the outside community and lets them know we love and care about them. It also gives our school-aged children something positive to focus on while they remain home," Brinkhaus added.

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Nursing home visits were restricted after President Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. a national emergency last week. Restrictions include suspending all visitors, volunteers and nonessential personnel with limited exceptions, such as end-of-life situations, to avoid unnecessary exposure to the virus, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Children drawing pictures for nursing home residents. (Photo: Heart of Hospice-Acadiana)

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As of Tuesday, the U.S. has seen 4,661 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, with senior citizens being most susceptible.

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"Being creative with the way we deliver care to our patients and communities is critical. The foreseeable future will challenge us as providers to think outside the box while providing holistic, patient-centered care," Heart of Hospice-Acadania Administrator Maria Menard said.

Children drawing pictures for nursing home residents/ Heart of Hospice-Acadiana

"We continue to take the COVID-19 outbreak seriously, but are thrilled to see our care team supporting the community by spreading a little joy during this time of uncertainty," she added.

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