In New Orleans, a sad testament to the dying: the nation's first pop-up hospice center for hospitalized coronavirus patients. The state's biggest hospice provider, Heart of Hospice, teamed up with East Jefferson General Hospital to let loved ones be there for dying relatives, provided visitors wear protective gear. The 15-bed facility accepted its first patients Thursday regardless of whether they could pay, the Biloxi Sun Herald reports. "No one has ever 'popped up' an inpatient unit [before]," Heart of Hospice CEO Carla Davis says in this video. "Normally when you decide to develop an IPU, you have to go through regulatory approval, you have to go through securing a space ... equipment, all of these things."
Heart of Hospice stepped in amid heart-breaking stories of fatally stricken COVID-19 patients dying without loved ones, the Times-Picayune reports. Tom Dempsey, a former New Orleans Saints kicker, died with coronavirus at 73 in a nursing home without his daughter, Ashley, to comfort him. "We just wanted to be there so he knew we hadn't left him, hadn't forgotten him," she said moments after learning of her father's death. The ward, which also lets patients spend their last days at home, plans to run through June with its cadre of staffers. "We asked our staff across all of Heart of Hospice if they would be interested in volunteering ... and so many people raised their hands," Davis says through tears. "Literally from all over." (Read more coronavirus stories.)