BayCare Provides Spiritual Support During COVID-19 Pandemic
BayCare’s top priority is the health and wellness of patients, team members and the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, spiritual and emotional well-being is important too.
“Literature notes that involvement in spiritual activities really does help one's mental wellness,” says Dr. Nick Dewan, BayCare’s chief medical officer for the Behavioral Health Division, in a BayCare HealthChat podcast on mental wellness. “The old concept of mind, body and spirit – there's science to back it up.”
The Mission Integration and Spiritual Care teams at BayCare strive to meet the spiritual, religious and emotional needs of patients, families and team members.
“Spiritual Care support is especially important during this time,” said Colleen Walters, vice president of Mission and Ethics at BayCare. “There are a variety of spiritual resources such as music, prayer, meditation, Holy writings / scripture, inspirational writings such as poetry, devotional materials or prayer books, as well as sacramental practices such as communion and anointing that may be available.”
Each BayCare Spiritual Care Department has Chaplains to provide ministry to patients and families in a variety of situations. They have specialized education to mobilize spiritual resources to help patients cope more effectively. “Our Chaplains are at the core of the body, mind and spirit connection,” said Walters.
Chaplains and the Spiritual Care team have made some adjustments to accommodate the guidelines for attending to patients. For instance, for patient visitation, they stay outside of the patient room rather than entering it, in order to save personal protective equipment for clinical team members.
In order to safeguard the health of patients, team members, physicians and the community, BayCare closed patient visitation at its hospitals on March 21. Since then, after visiting with a patient, Chaplains call the patient’s family to update them about the patient’s condition. They also help to arrange virtual visits with patients’ family members via FaceTime or other online apps.
BayCare’s Catholic hospitals – St. Anthony’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospitals – continue to televise Mass over the closed circuit television network that is available in patients’ rooms. St. Anthony’s Hospital posts inspiring messages on a bulletin board adjacent to its cafeteria.
“Our professional chaplains and their certifying organizations demonstrate a deep commitment and sensitivity to the diverse ethnic and religious cultures,” Walters added. “Whether it is in the emergency department, a waiting room, in the struggle of recovery from accident or illness, to rejoicing over good news, or in the anxiety of a pandemic, and in moments of grief and loss, the Chaplain is there to offer hope, support and compassion.”