COURT HOUSE – They walked down hospital corridors, sharing a prayer, patting a shoulder, and giving comfort.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, hospital chaplains face a unique dilemma: how to provide spiritual support at a distance.
Ray Wisniewski, director of Patient Experience and Patient Advocate, Cape Regional Medical Center, faces this challenge daily. As the director, Wisniewski’s workload has increased to overseeing the food coming in for patients. Chaplains at Cape Regional fall under volunteer services and, according to Wisniewski, cannot enter the building at this time.
How are patients and their families able to connect with chaplains? Wisniewski is “thankful” for technology, such as iPads, he said, in a phone interview April 18. Chaplains are finding creative ways to connect with families and patients. By utilizing phone calls and virtual meetings, praying and speaking with those in need is possible.
Due to mounting responsibilities, Wisniewski was not available for further interviews. The Herald made multiple attempts to speak with other staff members, but no reply or comment has been given.
Across the world, chaplains continue performing their duties. Several media sources describe how chaplains provide support for exhausted medical professionals serving on the pandemic's frontline. “Air-hugs” and “elbow-bumps” have temporarily replaced human touch, all to prevent spreading coronavirus.
Apps and programs, like FaceTime and Skype, must bridge the gap between those ministering and those in need. How long social distancing will last is anyone’s guess.
According to a Cape Regional volunteer’s brochure, “Our volunteers range from high school and college students interested in exploring healthcare career fields to a team of retired people who bring a lifetime of knowledge and experience to their assignments.”
A chaplain’s “lifetime of knowledge and experience” has certainly increased during this unprecedented time.
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