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Thought Leaders: Reflections On 2020: Extraordinary Challenges, Exceptional Resilience

We are nearing the end of 2020, a year that for many in our community has been the most challenging year we have ever experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered our professional and personal lives in ways we could not have foreseen or imagined. Despite this profound disruption, Pathways has continued to fully live our mission as our exceptionally adaptable and resilient staff care for more patients and families than ever before.

Anticipating potential supply chain problems, we have maintained an ample stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the year, enabling us to continue to provide critically needed patient care while keeping our staff and those around them safe. Earlier this summer we began administering weekly COVID-19 tests to our clinical staff, further enhancing our safety measures, and facilitating access to our patients in skilled nursing facilities that had to lock down to protect their highly vulnerable residents.

The pandemic has also heightened the urgent need to move forward with the construction of our freestanding inpatient care center (ICC). While we continue to operate the 6-bed Pathways Hospice Care Center at McKee Medical Center in Loveland (as we have for over 20 years), we are unable to care for COVID-positive patients in that inpatient unit because it lacks the negative pressure rooms necessary to safely isolate highly infectious patients. The new ICC we will build adjacent to our offices and counseling center on Carpenter Road in Fort Collins will have two such rooms, making this highest level of inpatient hospice care available even to patients with extremely contagious illnesses.

None of us have been spared from the mental health impact of the global pandemic. Many are grieving the death of someone close to us, or know someone who is. And there is an elevated level of stress and anxiety that we are all carrying. Pathways for Grief & Loss has continued to provide robust and comprehensive grief and loss counseling services continually throughout the pandemic, moving group events to virtual platforms, holding counseling sessions outdoors (weather permitting), and even providing some face-to-face counseling on a limited basis utilizing COVID-screening, masks, and HEPA filtration units.

Try as I might, I simply cannot find the words to adequately express my admiration, awe, and gratitude for the amazing staff at Pathways. Hospice, palliative care, and bereavement counseling is challenging work under the best of circumstances, in the midst of a global pandemic all the more so. Our resilience and resolve are facing a relentless test, and we a rising to the occasion and supporting our community with unwavering skill, compassion, and expertise.

As we navigate through a holiday season dramatically different than normal, may you all find peace, renewal, and hope. Be well, stay safe, and know that Pathways is more committed than ever to our mission.


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