By Kathleen Coronado

On March 13, 2020, the Trump administration declared COVID-19 a national emergency, unlocking billions in federal resources to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Weeks later, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-91, outlining a “Safer at Home” policy intended to protect Floridians through temporary isolation.

While the full statewide shutdown lasted slightly more than a month, those of us in healthcare are still coping with lingering restrictions, a changing care landscape, and reasonable concerns from patients, their families, and our peers and partners in the industry.

Driven by compassion and a commitment to our community, South Florida providers and clinicians have continued to treat and support patients in person through the most restrictive periods of the pandemic.

VITAS Healthcare—the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, and a cornerstone of South Florida healthcare for more than 40 years—is no exception.

Our hospice and palliative care services support over 18,000 patients with advanced illness and their loved ones in 14 states and the District of Columbia every day. More than 10,000 employees carry out our incredibly rewarding mission: to provide comfort and dignity to patients and their families as they face the end of life together.

Through education, resource sharing, and volunteer efforts, VITAS also supports numerous partner organizations and initiatives dedicated to improving quality of life for vulnerable people throughout the communities we serve: veterans groups, food banks, disaster relief initiatives, and many more.

Most VITAS teams—comprising a physician, nurse, aide, chaplain, social worker, volunteer, and bereavement specialist—care for patients wherever they call home. We’ve built a mobility-first care model using leading-edge technology and operational practices to ensure seamless care coordination and uninterrupted support for patients with advanced illness in any setting.

During COVID-19, VITAS has gone even further to protect our staff, partners, patients, and their families without sacrificing quality of care.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, VITAS has coordinated with the White House COVID-19 Task Force and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enabling quick adaptation to changing policies and safety guidelines.

We stocked up on personal protective equipment to keep our teams and patients safe during routine care in every imaginable setting. Additionally, we staffed every VITAS location with an infection control manager to oversee COVID-protocol compliance and respond to potential risks.

The advantages of our highly mobile, flexible approach to care became especially apparent during the pandemic and continue today. VITAS’ mobile technology and telehealth capabilities allow us to deliver complex modalities and symptom relief in heavily restricted settings, transition eligible patients to hospice 24/7, and involve physically distant family members in their loved ones’ care.

Our embrace of telehealth also ensures that patients, families, and staff at partnering facilities receive the psychosocial and spiritual support they require, whenever they require it, from VITAS chaplains and social workers.

VITAS employees and volunteers worked hard to keep up with beloved traditions and much-appreciated services amid COVID-19 restrictions:

• Special parades thanked our fellow healthcare workers and uplifted isolated care facility residents

• Music therapists and lovable Paw Pals pet volunteers visited and entertained patients through windows

• A variety of Zoom and phone-in support groups (available in English and Spanish) continue to help families and community members through challenging times—and also facilitated a nationwide virtual celebration of Veterans Day

VITAS recognized and addressed the growing personal needs of our staff during this period by expanding employee benefits to include Teladoc appointments, an Employee Assistance Program, and extra paid time off.

Through it all, VITAS kept employees’ insurance premiums down, avoided layoffs, and continued to provide competitive merit-based pay increases companywide.

I’m proud to work for a South Florida healthcare provider that understands the importance of protecting and caring for its employees. Hospice and palliative care are people-focused specialties, and VITAS has never failed to support the people who provide that care.

If you’re looking for a fulfilling career centered on helping others in their most challenging moments, I encourage you to join our talented team of compassionate professionals. Learn more about our mission and apply today at

Kathleen Coronado is a general manager for VITAS Healthcare in Broward County.