The nurse at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo was confiding with a chaplain about the challenges she faces as the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen. Now 10 months into the crisis and with cases continuing to surge to record highs, Covid-19 has put immense stress on frontline health care workers — not only doctors and nurses, but a huge variety of employees not normally in the spotlight.
These include respiratory therapists, clinical laboratory scientists, phlebotomists, radiologists and imaging technologists, transporters, pharmacists and pharmacy techs, registration and admissions staff members, behavioral health specialists, EVS/housekeeping employees – the list goes on.
And health care leaders like Nickijo Hager, chief mission integration officer at Mission Hospital, are hearing story after story about how these frontline caregivers are relying on faith, self-care, and other practices to cope.
The nurse, as Hager recalled, mentioned to the chaplain the story in the Bible about how the apostles in the boat were terrified by the stormy waters.
As told in Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus awoke and calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and then rebuked the apostles:
“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
For the nurse, the Covid-19 pandemic is the stormy waters, and her faith is what’s giving her hope, Hager said.
“And I really love something the nurse said,” Hager recalled in a recent interview with six other faith leaders at Providence Health & Services, a Catholic health care system whose Orange County hospitals include Mission, St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, and St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.
“She said, ‘I feel that camaraderie of my co-workers and appreciation from my patients,” Hager said. “I feel a sense of calling. And I feel that passion that comes with that calling. I feel a sense of duty to do what I have to do during the pandemic, and my faith is what gives me hope….”
Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have stepped up to make the lives of its employees easier, from setting up times for stressed-out workers to visit with chaplains, to selling diapers, toilet paper, and other essentials out of their cafeteria, and also helping with childcare by partnering with such organizations as the YMCA.
Sister Suzette Bautista, spiritual care manager at St. Joseph and St. Jude, mentioned the distribution of tiny bottles of holy water to patients and hospital employees to help people feel more connected to their faith at a time when churches are closed or very limited to in-person worship….
One doctor at Mission Hospital has drawn strength from his role as a stand-in for loved ones of patients who, because of Covid-19 restrictions, cannot visit the hospital.
The families have expressed their immense gratitude to the doctor, Hager said.
“And that is what keeps him going and continuing to give 100 percent of himself,” she said….
The above comes from a Jan. 20 story in OC Catholic.