Well-being zones are being set up all over the country, staff support is essential, so that they can care for the very sick patients.
Visiting on wards takes longer due to the personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand-washing that is essential before and after ministering to a patient, and due to increasing numbers of staff wanting support. Our chaplaincy team meets two or three times a day to learn about updates, to brief those taking over, to make sure no one has been forgotten, and to support each other through these draining days. The breaks mean we don’t work at 110 per cent, and ensure we have enough in reserves for the days when work is manic.
Chaplains are continuing to do the work they are called to do, albeit they are finding new ways to do it. Anointing via cotton buds, tele-chaplaining and no touching. It is hard to have a quiet supportive chat when you have to stand 2 metres apart, but it can be made to work. It is very weird though – roads are quiet, helicopters whirr overhead, soldiers are regularly seen and lots of people working from home.
There are many sad times, and the resilience needed is high. Well-being zones are being set up all over the country, staff support is essential, so that they can care for the very sick patients. Here, chaplains say daily prayers for the sick and the dying, remembering the staff who are caring for those patients, and we stand in place of the relatives who cannot come in. We light a candle, stand for a minute’s silence, we say a psalm, usually 23 or 121, we pray and we say the Lord’s Prayer. And I think it is very right we are here.
Fr Mychal Judge OFM was a Catholic priest and New York Fire Dept chaplain who died on 9.11. His prayer seems apt during the COVID-19 crisis:
Lord, take me where You want me to go
Let me meet who You want me to meet
Tell me what You want me to say
And keep me out of Your way.