By Chaplain Gordon Ruddick, Peace Health Medical Center, Springfield, Oregon
As chaplains, we’ve always been required to wear “business casual” to work. Still true. Now, though, there’s a new addition. All employees are required to wear a yellow, slightly itchy, hospital mask during our workday. In order to enter one of only three entrances we must all successfully pass the temperature check, give our identifying information, and tell them how we feel. Then the mask. No exceptions. And no homemade masks allowed in the hospital. Only the yellow ones, except in special situations when N-95 masks are required for more dangerous duty.
These days it’s more “serious business” and a lot less “casual.” The war continues. And we are the front lines. As a chaplain I am not seeing COVID-19 patients directly, but definitely am at times involved with other staff who have been in the heat of that battle. My job has changed focus from patients to staff. There are no family or visitors these days, except for those on both ends of life, the ones coming in and the ones going out. Those folks can have very limited visitation from a family member. Of course I still see patients as well. I am one of their few visitors.
While this pandemic is a bother to many in our community, a loss of business for a multitude, and a definite disruption to schedules and plans to millions, it is as well a source of concern and danger for us who are serving in this place. You are supposed to stay home. We are supposed to go to work. And there are days when that is not easy. Especially the first few days when everything was very eerie. It is a place of danger as well as a place of duty. This is who I am. This is what I have been called to do. We feel that way. It’s why we stay faithful. That does not mean we are never afraid. It means we let go of the fear and hang on to faithfulness.
We and our families appreciate your prayer for our safety and effective ministry to the givers and the receivers of health care. The risks are great. As are the rewards. Our God is faithful. May that continue to be our legacy as well. “For such a time as this.”
While many Americans are “staying home,” front-line medical personnel in infected areas are working overtime; that includes hospital chaplains. Pray for Chaplain Ruddick and the other 23 CBAmerica hospital chaplains, most of whom are designated “essential personnel.” Join me in praying for God’s protection and guidance as they minister to staff and patients.
For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains ministering during the current pandemic, visit https://cbamerica.org/chaplaincy/. For electronic brochures describing chaplaincy ministries and the endorsement requirements, contact Director of Chaplaincy, Randy Brandt, at firstname.lastname@example.org.