Chaplains face challenges during pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hospital staff responsible for caring for people’s physical well-being are not the only ones facing challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. The workload for those who deal with the emotional side of things has also increased.

Not only are hospital chaplains caring for more patients, they are also taking on more staff.

According to the Director of the Chaplaincy Program at IU Health, Vern Farnum, hospital staff are reaching out and using chaplain services more than ever before.

Farnum said it’s easy to forget they are caring for more than just COVID-19 patients right now, there are still large numbers of people with other illnesses and diseases and that burden is left on hospital staff who then turn to chaplains for support.

“The number one thing we hear from staff right now is fatigue. We are all tired, we’re tired of watching people suffer with COVID -19, yes watching people die, but also we watch people who have COVID-19 and we are concerned for their future well-being because we don’t completely know the lasting impact this could have on a person’s health,” explained Farnum.

He said always caring for others can weigh heavy on chaplains, especially right now. He is doing his best to make sure they get enough time off and are pulled off units when the work becomes too much.

Farnum tries his best to spend safe time with family.

He said the biggest help he could ever ask for, can only come from the community.

“It’s better for all of us to be concerned about one another and protect one another by wearing a mask and washing your hands and practicing social distancing,” said Farnum.

IU Health Chaplains are still doing in-person visits in some situations. You can find more information on services here.