Hospital staff, chaplains lean on each other through COVID stress

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A special relationship between Parkview’s healthcare workers and chaplain team has been helping lighten the load both are feeling through the pandemic. They have taken on extra responsibilities, and stress, with an increase in patients and restrictions preventing family members from visiting.

“The support needed this year is much different due to the heaviness that COVID has brought,” Audrey Hunnicutt, the manager of Parkview Regional Medical Center’s emergency department told WANE 15. “There are more life or death situations the families are coming in with increased anxiety. The patients have increased anxiety. That snowballs and gives the staff increased anxiety.”

“I think this year knowing that their load is heavier than it’s ever been, maybe in the history of Parkview Health, we try to do a little bit more, that we’re more aware that the nurses we’re working with are carrying that heavy load,” Director of Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services Patrick Riecke added.

The chaplain team at Parkview has been doing what it can to help ease that burden the staff has been feeling.

“You do try to garb up with the PPE, stay in the room in a while to not only provide the nursing care that is needed, but the emotional care that these patients require as well,” Hunnicutt said.

“There’s not a way to fix everything that our nurses and other co-workers are bearing during a pandemic, but those little things that we can do, to come alongside of them, helps to ease some of that stress,” Riecke explained.

The care for each other is really a two way street.

“We’re humbled sometimes,” Riecke said. “We view ourselves as there to help our nurses, but the truth of the matter is the nurses come alongside of us a lot of times too.”

They have asked for a little bit of grace from those needing help and for the rest of us in the community to show support by slowing the spread with mask wearing and social distancing.

“We’re here for the community and we’re in an unusual season where we need the community to be here for us too and do those basic things,” Riecke added.

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