Hospital chaplains take a front line role in pandemic

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Kansas City, MO - One set of essential workers in hospitals aren't there to provide medical care.

Hospital chaplains are typically part of the daily life inside hospitals. Now that family visitations have been limited, chaplains can be the only person, beyond medical staff, that interact with patients.

“Our chaplains are going into rooms and sitting with people, and talking with them," says Reverend Susan Roberts, director of spiritual wellness at St Luke's Hospital in Kansas City.  She says they talk about "their feelings of isolation, missing their families, hearing their stories, and engaging them in what’s meaningful and lifegiving to them.”

And if they're unable to meet with someone in person they talk by phone. Roberts says they’re spending a lot of time with patients who feel alone right now, and also taking time to encourage staff members.

“We have a variety of things we do. We go and be present with them. We have what we call the soul cafe, which is a cart that we take to provide tea and snacks,” Roberts said.

She says chaplains can act as a go-between, passing messages between loved ones and the patients.