Exhausted hospital chaplains bring solace to lonely, dying
Jan 19, 2021 1 min, 35 secs
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Inside hospital rooms across America, where the sick are alone without family to comfort them, the grim task of offering solace falls to overworked and emotionally drained hospital chaplains who are dealing with more death than they’ve ever seen.

As he has each day for the past 11 months, Chaplain Kevin Deegan sits with the sick and dying, clad in a facemask, face shield, gloves and full body cover.

Deegan, who ministered to people undergoing hospice and palliative care before joining Holy Cross two years ago, is no stranger to death.

But still, he says, he and his fellow chaplains had seen nothing like this before COVID-19 struck last year and began to kill people by the hundreds of thousands.

Holy Cross is filled with so many COVID-19 patients that it has had to double up some people in intensive care rooms and put others in areas normally reserved for outpatient care and patient recovery.

On that Monday when 11 people died, including three he personally ministered to, Deegan went home and, after he tried to fall asleep, saw the faces and again heard the voices of the people who had sobbed and screamed at him, “Why.

Some families lash out at the chaplains, looking for someone to blame, said Monica Pantoja, a clerk at the hospital’s intensive care unit who has been isolating at home after becoming infected herself.

As Deegan prayed with another patient last week he encouraged her loved ones to talk to her through the iPad, and when one shouted, “Hi Mom,” the woman, on oxygen, opened her eyes wider, raised her head slightly and tried to reply, although the words wouldn’t come.

“It was painful and at the same time it was heartwarming because I had the chance to pray with my mom, with the pastor,” he said before turning to Deegan to tell him, ‘Thank you, God bless you.’”

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