ST. LOUIS, Mo. – You may have heard the claim that coronavirus patients are dying alone in hospitals since they have barred visitors. Hospital chaplains are trained for end of life moments and do everything they can to make sure patients do not die alone.
About 20 clergy members are on the team who minister at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospitals in St. Charles, Lake Saint Louis, and Wentzville. They talk and pray with COVID-19 patients through cell phones and iPads or in-person, particularly at end of life moments.
“We try and be present, and make sure that they have a family member present whenever possible. We don’t really want to someone dying alone. Our goal is to make sure that the patients have their needs met. That we are there to support them in whatever their spiritual needs are. A lot of times that means being present at the time of death, whether in the room or outside the room,” said Chance Beeler, SSM Health Manager for Pastoral Care.
“So, I have many patients who find great comfort and solace in their interactions with the spiritual care department, with the chaplains here. Also worth mentioning is the emotional connection with other staff members like nurses, people cleaning the rooms, people bringing the meals, are all very important to a patient’s overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Terra Thorndike with SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital Palliative Care.
SSM Hospitals can make an exception at end life moments for a family member to be in the room. Both the family member and chaplain will be fully owned, wearing a protective mask and gloves, and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from the patient.