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I feel like what jumped off the pages at me was self-care. This past week patients laid with covers up to their nose only peeping out with their eyes from fear that caregivers entering the room would make them sick. Our governor used the term “pollinator.” People understood that term fearing clinical staff would not used good hand hygiene and contaminate them. Patients also did not understand the Covid19 patients are in a locked unit, not dispersed throughout the hospital, staff would not see a C19 patient and then see other patients. Education has been so helpful in alleviating anxiety. There are physicians who are concerned for their own health and it shows. There were staffing changes in the spiritual care department where I work which have brought another unseen stress. Fast change is not normal to my system, nor do I imagine that it is normal to any one. I like gradual change and adaptation. This current health care crisis did not allow for this natural process to change. The country changed whether we were buying in to the system or not. No one assessed the country to see where we were in the change cycle. Practicing self-care is vital to remaining healthy. I find people are exploring new options to cope with this current change. I am encouraging patients to read, FaceTime, make phone calls, work crossword and puzzle booklets, participate in therapy, write down one good thing per day, etc.
My heart felt very heavy this week. In the midst of codes and normal hospital life and death situations there is this ominous unknown factor of what the “peak” will look like for us. Here in Kentucky, it has a been reported that because the governor began a rigorous scale back in public interaction, the “peak” will be more flat. Staff seem to be very appreciative of chaplain support. We have passed a “Tending to the Spirit” out each week. Staff have responded very well to that physical written word or prayer and support. Staff have asked for Blessings of hands. This simple ritual done without touching brings empowerment to them in the midst of chaos. If nothing else it brings a moment to refocus on their own breathe and gift of hands. I have been provided the opportunity to begin to reach out with Bluejeans this week. This avenue of Telehealth will be new to me. I am grateful for the opportunity since part of my population need to debrief their emotions without family support.
I appreciate Wally’s terms of onions and ogres. He processed the terms which were laid out well. Thank you, Wally. Like Peter a new layer of quiet has been added to my office work. Where once as chaplains we processed together, the stress is too fragile to process much right now. So the quiet has come about. We were able to find a day to eat together and another day to join in dessert together which allowed us as chaplains to lay aside our roles just to be together. We were appropriately spaced. I feel like in our office is also a plant that we as staff created together sometime ago that is a physical representation of hope. We put together a ritual of grief in the plant with rocks and shells buried in the pot. It is also surrounded by those objects. Those were a joint process of grieving past and creating future. If find this current situation creates opportunity to think out of the box to trust the power of ritual and what we hold in core values as true to look with hope that everything comes to pass, even burn out. After the forest fire, there is new growth, new life, new journey. This has been a well-timed and needed group for me. Thank you all so very much! Laura