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Even Death Has Changed: End-of-Life, Burials, and Bereavement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Caring on the Frontline during COVID-19

Abstract

COVID-19 has drastically impacted end-of-life care for hospitalized patients globally. To reduce the risk of infection, hospitals everywhere have implemented stringent visitor policies, which prevent families from being at the bedside when their loved one is dying of COVID-19. These changed protocols have had a profound impact on several aspects of the dying process for patients, families, and healthcare workers (HCWs) alike. This study compares the experiences of HCWs working during COVID-19 in Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with a focus on death and dying. In all three locales, families have been unable to perform rituals and rites during and after the time of death, dying and grief are occurring in isolation, and forms of communication between families and dying patients have become increasingly mediated by technology. To provide compassionate care to patients, overworked HCWs have taken on much of the burden to alleviate patient isolation, to facilitate communication between patients and families, to accompany patients at the time of death. This paper discusses the creative and caring tools and strategies utilized by healthcare workers to respond to and cope with these challenging realities in order to improve end-of-life conditions for patients and their families, and the strain these conditions have had on the mental health and wellbeing of HCWs.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Interviews from Mexico were exclusively done in Mexico City public hospitals, data consisted of more than 60 hour-long interviews with 30 HCWs (doctors, nurses, interns, residents, social workers, and lab personnel). The UK study consisted of interviews with 28 HCWs (nurses, consultants, dieticians, pharmacists, registrars, and trainees) mostly from large public hospitals in London. The US study consisted of 55 hour-long interviews with nurses, doctors, and advanced care professionals from across the US.

  2. 2.

    Interviews from Mexico were in Spanish, the Mexican team PI, that also participated conducting the interviews, translated them to English.

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Eguiluz, I., Block, E., Mitchinson, L., Carrasco, L.N., S-Rivera, A. (2022). Even Death Has Changed: End-of-Life, Burials, and Bereavement During the COVID-19 Pandemic. In: Vindrola-Padros, C., Johnson, G.A. (eds) Caring on the Frontline during COVID-19. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6486-1_11

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6486-1_11

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-6485-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-6486-1

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

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