AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Over the past 18 months, medical professionals have been on the front lines of this pandemic—but it is not just nurses and doctors taking care of our loved ones.
BSA Hospital‘s Spiritual Director, Tami Carroll, said with the pandemic came many changes at the hospital.
“It got really quiet in the halls, and it was a very eerie feeling to me because we’re used to it being a pretty bustling, bustling place,” Carroll said. “A bigger thing than that, was just the change in role, I think that many of us took. From nursing staff, therapy staff, our environmental services, our nutrition people, everybody took on additional roles over this past 18 months.”
Carroll said hospital staff members filled the void when family members and friends were not allowed to visit, regularly putting on full PPE to go in and care for patients who were positive for the virus.
“Normally a family member or close friend might be in the room to help somebody eat a meal or, and take care of cleaning up, washing their face, brushing teeth, again, some of those things, and just really just sitting and conversing with somebody who might be lonely or afraid, our hospital staff took on a lot of those roles,” Carroll continued. “Which gave us a deeper emotional investment when you are doing the personal things that family and friends usually do. So, it came at an emotional cost.”
Spiritual care workers also helped when pastors and spiritual leaders could not. Carroll said BSA has always provided spiritual leaders and pastors at the request of patients, but during the pandemic, it has been up to pastors whether they felt safe coming in and for how long.
“It was a heavy toll for sure. Not only were the chaplains spending a lot of time in patient rooms, where there might not have been the normal clergy, personnel coming in, or visitors from the local churches. But we also spent a lot more time taking care of our nursing staff and our therapy staff and just the people that work at the hospital.”
This, as hospital staff endured Amarillo’s worst months in November and December.
“Not only were we taking care of patients and trying to connect with family members, whether it be by phone, or FaceTime, or Zoom, we tried to do a lot of that with patients and their families. But we were also trying to care for our staff, our medical staff here at the hospital, who were experiencing just a lot more critical illness and death than they ever had,” Carroll said.
With cases now increasing, staff could once again be overwhelmed and patients in need of extra help.
“As we see our numbers creeping back up again, I feel like we need to stay aware and be especially cautious around our vulnerable population, whether it’s vulnerability because of age or pre-existing conditions, things like that,” she added. “We need to be mindful that we still have this virus that can be very dangerous and deadly to some.”
The Spiritual Care Department also created a peer-to-peer support program for BSA employees. Carroll said it is available 24/7, free, and confidential.