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Paul C. Edwards
As I mentioned, our first death from COVID-19, in my county occurred in our hospital. It was on a Saturday, and I was not in. My weekend coverage was not called. When I got in on the Monday following, my staff told me how things played out, and one said she would have loved for me to have been with them. (They will call back-up help for patients/families, but not for themselves. I suspect it’s because they know me and have formed a relationship with me and others are pretty much strangers).
Anyhow, I took the time to express my gratitude to them (I included our new Intensive Care Medical Director as well), for the work they did and how much appreciative we all are for the sacrifice and their courageous efforts in working hard to save that patients. Aside from direct referrals, I’ve spent my days checking in on staff on all my floors, asking how they are coping, listening to stories of what home has become – with kids home from college, grade school, etc. and the multiple stressors that the disruption has caused. I’ve done a lot of listening as staff expressed fears – for their safety as they go out to shop in scrubs, after work (having learned of folks being attacked in some places – not here). I’ve offered comfort to folks who have no opportunities to grieve because funeral gatherings are forbidden.
I plan on doing that for my staff for as long as this lasts. I know a lot of them very well. I know their stories and, in some cases, I know their families. That gives me an added advantage of not being “some Chaplain fellow”. I’m one of them and we can share without barriers.