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Midday Maryland - Spiritual Support during the COVID-19 pandemic

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By:

Laura Tenbus

May 19, 2020
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected more than just physical health; it has impacted people’s spiritual and emotional health as well. Rev. Saundra Rector, M-Div., BCC, Chaplain for Spiritual Support Services at GBMC, appeared on Midday Maryland to explain her role in the hospital, how Spiritual Support Services is helping patients and employees, and what people in the community can do to maintain their emotional health during such stressful times.

As a chaplain in the hospital, Rev. Rector works with patients to provide religious support, sacramental support, and prayer. This can be anything from serving communion to providing religious texts or simply sitting with patients and talking to them about how they feel. She and the team also support those who don’t consider themselves religious but feel that they are spiritual. “Everyone has some spiritual aspect to them,” Rev. Rector explained, “we’re here to offer encouragement and help people process the experience of being hospitalized.”

Under normal circumstances, spiritual services are provided face-to-face in an intimate setting, but the precautions needed to protect patients and staff from COVID-19 have changed what that looks like. All GBMC employees wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including a face mask and droplet shield, which creates a physical barrier and, possibly, an emotional one as well. The team recognizes this and is working harder than ever to connect to patients in a safe way. They are using phones to call into rooms with COVID-19 positive patients and practicing social distancing with patients who do not have the virus.

Spiritual Support Services also works with GBMC staff to help them get through this challenging situation. “When all of this started unfolding, there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about how we would handle this and go in and out of patient rooms, but the employees have been absolutely phenomenal,” Rev. Rector said. She explained that the team is there to be a listening ear for staff and to help them process any anxieties they may have.

This situation is stressful for everyone, whether they are in a hospital or not. Rev. Rector described how there are three different roles that people can fill during difficult situations: a hero, a victim, or a learner. Heroes look at their circumstances and see what they can do to improve and help others. This is a healthy way of looking at things, but Rev. Rector emphasized that it is okay to feel like a victim. She suggested looking at each negative thing that is happening and break it down to figure out the best way to address it and get help if needed. This allows people to become learners and see how they can better themselves throughout the situation.

Rev. Rector also offered the following tips for staying grounded during the pandemic:
  • Create a sacred space in your home where you can be with yourself and breathe deeply – even if it is only for a couple of minutes
  • Go outside for a walk and remain physically active
  • Use an app or website to practice guided meditation
  • Reflect inward and focus on how you can grow during this time
To learn more about Spiritual Support Services at GBMC, visit www.gbmc.org/spiritualsupport or call 443-849-2054.

*Click here for more information and articles about the coronavirus (COVID-19)*
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