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Adventist Health chaplains go above and beyond to provide spiritual care during COVID-19

Spirit, Show on Corporate Home, COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of how Adventist Health chaplains carry out their work—but one thing hasn’t changed: Their dedication to providing spiritual care to our patients.

We are so blessed by our chaplains at Adventist Health, and we’re thankful for everything they do this year and every year. From donning masks while visiting non-COVID-19 patients, to comforting COVID-19 patients over the phone while looking through windows, they’ve gone above and beyond to ensure that spiritual care is not compromised even in the middle of a pandemic.

They’ve found creative new ways to connect, had difficult conversations and had struggles of their own. Here are some of their stories.

Adventist Health Hanford shares compassion through cards: “You are not forgotten”

Card that says "You are not forgotten" sitting on a table with sunflowersWhen a patient is lonely, suffering or in need of prayer, chaplains across Adventist Health in the Central Valley are quick to rush to their bedside to share God’s word. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve found themselves limited to the services they can offer.

“I had a burning desire in my heart to do something for our COVID-19 patients since we’re not going room-to-room, providing visits like we normally would,” says Erika Valenzuela, chaplain for Adventist Health in the Central Valley.

So, Erika began working with a local designer to provide printed cards specifically for COVID-19 patients. The end result was a heart-warming card that reads “You are not forgotten” on the front, and on the inside, Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help… With love and big hugs, your spiritual care team.”

On the very day of receiving the printed cards, Erika received a call from a COVID-19 patient who said she feared dying and was unsure of the purpose God had for her life.

“I listened and ministered to her from scripture,” says Erika. “We ended our conversation with a prayer, and as soon as I hung up the phone, I took the elevator up to the floor where the patient was receiving care and delivered the ‘You are not forgotten’ card and a sunflower to the nurse to help brighten the patient’s day.”

Photo: “You are not forgotten” cards are delivered to COVID-19 patients at Adventist Health in the Central Valley.

Chaplain at Adventist Health Simi Valley begins work during pandemic

Reverend Taylor Laurie Reverend Taylor Laurie began her work as a chaplain at Adventist Health Simi Valley in March, so her experience at the hospital so far has included masks, social distancing and speaking with COVID-19 patients over the phone.

It’s not easy to provide comfort to patients without being able to sit with them or hug them. When Laurie was called to speak with a COVID-positive mother who had suffered a miscarriage, she had to do her best to console the patient by phone.

“It was one of those moments that I just wanted to put on all the (personal protective equipment) and hold her and hold her baby,” Taylor says.

You can read Reverend Laurie’s full story in the Camarillo Acorn.

Photo: Reverend Taylor Laurie | Photo credit: Michael Coons/Acorn Newspapers

“I’m not done being abrasive”: Adventist Health Castle patient finds unusual motivation to keep fighting COVID-19

Sara-May Colón, chaplain at Adventist Health Castle.Chaplain Sara-May Colón’s first encounter with Wendi*, a feisty COVID-19 patient at Adventist Health Castle, was full of snarky jokes and laughter. Wendi, a self-proclaimed fighter full of sass, prided herself in her resilience and independence.

A few days later, Sara-May was told that she needed to go see Wendi again. When she walked into the room in full personal protective equipment, she knew something was different. Wendi was curled up in a ball and told Sara-May “Today’s not good to talk.” It became clear to Sara-May that the feisty, radiant, energetic patient she had seen just days before was feeling defeated by COVID.

But Sara-May wasn’t going to let Wendi give up so easily. “Without thinking properly as a chaplain, I loudly said, ‘Well, you can’t give up; You can’t die!’” says Sara-May.

Wendi opened one eye. Sara-May proceeded, “If you die, who is going to be the obnoxious person at the next family party? Who is going to annoy people and get under their skin? You haven’t trained a replacement, so you can’t just give up and roll over.” Wendi’s other eye opened, and she smirked.

As Sara-May went on about Wendi’s duty to ruffle feathers and keep people on their toes, Wendi began to relax. She laughed about who she had upset the most in the last few weeks, and after some time, she requested some water and ice chips. Sara-May wrapped up with a prayer and then Wendi said, “Well, guess I have to stay alive a little longer. I’m not done being abrasive.”

“She is stronger than even she thinks,” says Sara-May. “She made it out of the hospital to her next challenge. I hope to be half as feisty and resilient as that radiant being.”

Photo: Sara-May Colón, chaplain at Adventist Health Castle.

Looking for a virtual prayer group? Adventist Health Sonora chaplain has you covered

Chaplain MarioIn Sonora, Chaplain Mario DeLise leads a moment of prayer on Facebook Live every Thursday. Viewers can tune in to share a request and pray along.

Participants can also submit a prayer request at any time online. The prayer team and hospital chaplains pray over these requests on a regular basis.

To watch the weekly prayers, visit the Adventist Health Sonora Facebook page.


*Names have been changed to protect patient privacy