PORTSMOUTH, Va. — It's hard enough for some families to navigate COVID-19, but the challenge may be far greater when a child has a life-threatening illness.
"A parent may have to decide whether or not they decide to stay home. They've got brothers and sisters in the home. And then, now you factor COVID-19 into all of this, and there's a whole 'nother set of stressors that these families have to endure," said Debbie Stitzer-Brame, Executive Director of Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth.
Since 1978, the pediatric hospice has been providing nursing care, social services, and bereavement for critically-ill children and their families, regardless of their ability to pay.
"The pandemic has impacted the way the nonprofit provides services, as Edmarc's nurses care for children in their homes as much as possible. You still have to be able to touch a child to take care of them," said Stitzer-Brame. "We may be distancing ourselves from parents and even possibly the siblings, but you can't with a child who's sick."
Amid the changes, Edmarc is still helping families cope. The organization continues to provide 24/7 support services, schedules virtual visits when needed, and encourages people to stay connected via social media.
"If we can, maybe just for a moment or two, share something good that's going on, share a triumphant story of one of the kids who are surviving and beating the odds, then [we are] using all these platforms and opportunities to share the good work of Edmarc," said Stitzer-Brame.
At a time when stress levels are high enough, community donations help Edmarc continue to support children and families who may face even more emotional pressures.
"Yeah, there are challenges," said Stitzer-Brame. "But in the midst of all of this, we're rising to the occasion and making certain that kids who deserve this kind of care and their families are getting it."
For more on donating to Edmarc, click here.