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Hospital chaplains caring for patients and hospital staff amid COVID-19

"These are unprecedented times, the challenge for chaplains is how we do ministry different than we use to."

In hospitals across the country, it’s not just doctors and nurses dealing with the challenges of the novel coronavirus.

Thousands of hospital chaplains are also on the front lines finding new ways to comfort patients and their families amid a new norm of solitude.

"At a time where this virus has done so much to create distance and separation, it's contrary to what we do as chaplains,” said Mario Valadez, the senior director of mission integration at Chandler Regional Medical Center and Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.

Valadez also serves as a chaplain and says the spirit of his profession is about connection. 

He says teams at Dignity Health are finding new ways to connect with both patients and their families. One way is through making use of technology and being intentional about calling them. They've also allowed families to wait outside their loved one's hospital room. 

His teams are also reaching out to hospital staff, often dealing with the weight of the pandemic.

"We ask them questions like, 'How are you sleeping at night? Do you have groceries? How are you coping with this crisis?” said Valadez. 

In the end, Valadez says he knows it's painful for families and staff to watch patients lose their fight with the virus. Valadez says he is inspired by the human spirit.  He does remain hopeful that one day we will get through the pandemic and we will do it together. 

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