Please briefly introduce yourself, telling what you do and where you serve. Then move right into what you are seeing in your place of work and how you are finding creative ways to respond. I hope you will post prayers, services, ideas, things learned – anything that would be helpful for someone else to incorporate. Facebook has an Association of Professional Chaplains group with some great ideas and comments, as well as the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. I will take time tomorrow to post some of these links.
I am Trish Matthews, Board Certified Chaplain for over 25 years. I have worked in my current system in the Dallas area for 19 years now. I grew up Methodist, was initially ordained Southern Baptist, and now am an ordained Presbyterian minister. I love my work and have never encountered anything of this magnitude ever before. I had cancer last year and have been in remission for 6 months, which makes the fear of getting infected very real to me. I am divorced, have 3 children – and one of them is 20 weeks pregnant.
My hospital and system have begun to limit visitors to one per patient and they must screen negative. We have instituted a COVID hallway and are using our negative air pressure rooms for those with respiratory issues. Clergy are not being allowed to visit unless it is the end of life. All volunteers have been told not to come right now, so we are filling in where needed. As for our chaplains, we are not to visit the confirmed COVID patients and are to limit our visiting of others as well, focusing on referrals, palliative care, end of life, and length of stay over 4 days. These are just a few things that have been put in place.
As for our city and surrounding suburbs, we are basically on a shut down, shelter in place “lite.” Restaurants are drive through only and delivery. Movies, sports, schools – you name it, it is closed. People are being encouraged to work from home. And you guessed it – there is no toilet paper anywhere! What is it with that?? Our staff are anxious – anxious about being exposed, anxious about not having PPE, anxious about the PPE guidelines changing, tired, hungry, irritable – but our staff are showing up and doing what is required out of a good heart.
So, that is a place to start. What about you? Stay well, and hope for a better day – which will come!