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Chaplains continue fostering connection amid COVID-19 pandemic

“In spite of these less than ideal situations, I have been able to witness people finding peace and connection and meaning, and those are sacred moments."

ST. LOUIS — At a time, and in a place, where it can be easy to lose faith, is Reverend Allison Wible. As a chaplain at Mercy Hospital, she wants to help find it.

“I help provide spiritual and emotional support for our patients and families. And obviously that looks different for different families, different situations,” she said.

That’s especially true in the last year when connection became more difficult—and more precious.

Armed with prayers—and proper PPE—Wible and the other chaplains at Mercy continued their rounds.

“In spite of these less than ideal situations, I have been able to witness people finding peace and connection and meaning, and those are sacred moments,” she said.

In some cases, lifting spirits means holding up a phone or screen for patients to talk to loved ones who desperately want to be there.

“One visit I had, I remember I was holding up an iPad,” she said. “His mother talking to him. And this was not someone that was alert, but something she said just really struck me. And all I did was reach out and touch his head just in that comforting motion. I didn't realize until after I did it, which was just kind of this non-thinking moment, what that meant to her. In some ways I got to be her hand. I got to be her hand on his forehead, trying to give him comfort in that moment. And that's, that is humbling.”

Credit: KSDK

Wibel said taking care of her own heart and mental health is more of a challenge some days than others. It’s becoming easier as the COVID-19 numbers get better, and as more families are able to see loved ones for themselves.

“I can't even put a number on the amount of people that I worked with who unfortunately didn't leave the hospital. That's certainly taken a toll on our whole staff that works up in that unit for sure. Though it has been some hope to go, oh, look at this, not all of our rooms are COVID rooms right now. It's wonderful.”

As we turn a corner on this pandemic, Reverend Wibel hopes the signs of faith or new ways of connecting we've found along the way come with us.

“I call it the sacred ordinary. But it's those normal, beautiful moments that we just get to do and to be with other people,” she said. “And that's enough.”