Scalable Model for Delivery of Inpatient Palliative Care During a Pandemic

Ebru Kaya, Warren Lewin, David Frost, Breffni Hannon, Camilla Zimmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals worldwide have reported large volumes of patients with refractory symptoms and a large number of deaths attributable to COVID-19. This has led to an increase in the demand for palliative care beyond what can be provided by most existing programs. We developed a scalable model to enable continued provision of high-quality palliative care during a pandemic for hospitals without a palliative care unit or existing dedicated palliative care beds. Methods: A COVID-19 consultation service working group (CWG) was convened with stakeholders from palliative care, emergency medicine, critical care, and general internal medicine. The CWG connected with local palliative care teams to ensure a coordinated response, and developed a model to ensure high-quality palliative care provision. Results: Our 3-step scalable model included: (1) consultant model enhanced by virtual care; (2) embedded model; and (3) cohorted end-of-life unit for COVID-19 positive patients. This approach was enabled through tools and resources to ensure specialist palliative care capacity and rapid upskilling of all clinicians to deliver basic palliative care. Enabling tools and resources included a triage tool for in-person versus virtual care, new medication order sets and guidelines to facilitate prescribing for common symptoms, and lead advance care planning and goals of care discussions. A redeployment plan of generalist physicians and psychiatrists was created to ensure seamless provision of serious illness care. Conclusion: This 3-step, scalable approach enables rapid upscaling of palliative care in collaboration with generalist physicians, and may be adapted for future pandemics or natural disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-882
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • inpatient model
  • novel coronavirus
  • palliative care
  • pandemic
  • scalable


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