Local hospital chaplains helping patients and staff during pandemic

Local News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – When we think about those on the front lines inside the hospital of course we think about doctors and nurses, but the chaplains should be in that conversation.  They are helping everyone get through this situation. 

“It has been like a roller coaster all depending on what the day brings,” said Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center Chaplain Raymond Barnes.

The way Raymond Barnes works is far different than he did two months ago.

“Being in the ministry, we associate ourselves with closeness, and not being able to really get close with patients can be bothersome,” Barnes added.

Barnes has worked for the last 17 years as the DePaul hospital chaplain.  He now finds himself exposed to a potentially deadly illness.

“It has been personal for me, because I feel we are as chaplains responding to the chaos,” Barnes said.

Just like all other hospitals employees, Barnes wears a mask at all times and has changed the way he counsels patients.

“If I have to put my hand on a glass door or whatever, I’m learning that my prayers are powerful enough to go through a glass door,” Barnes added.

Barnes is also serving as the comforting link for families who can’t be with their loved ones.

“I hear their concerns,” Barnes said. “I know they want to come to the hospital and visit their patients, but my message to them is stay home and let us do the work so we can protect you and your loved one.”

There is one piece of Barnes’ job which has become very important.  That’s making sure doctors and nurses are okay.

Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center Chaplain Raymond Barnes.

“We are spending a lot of time, more time, dealing with staff,” Barnes added. “Even though our staff, our nurses are coming in with a brave face, with a compassionate heart, I can still see that they are emotionally unstable not knowing what is going to happen from minute to minute.”

Barnes ins’t sure what lies ahead at the hospital, but he believes staff can get through it if they stay together.

“We are here,” Barnes said.  “We are in it and I thank God for the training I have had as a chaplain to prepare me for this.”


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