Saint Alphonsus offering spiritual and mental care during pandemic

Posted at 8:13 AM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 10:13:48-04

BOISE, Idaho — Since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year, hospitals across the country and here in Idaho have been working non-stop to provide the best care they can to patients physically. But, some hospitals are also taking time to make sure their patients, families, and colleagues are taken care of mentally and spiritually as well.

Reverend Robert Irwin works as a chaplain at Saint Alphonsus. He says with friends and family not able to visit COVID patients, they're turning to modern methods to help people stay connected.

"I had a really great experience not too long ago of a family who wanted a blessing for their family so it was really great that I was able to have an iPad, the patient with the nurse was able to hold the iPad, but their family in their homes, we were able to connect instead of just one or two people, there were like 20 people on the Zoom meeting. It was really special for the whole family, and especially for the patient to see how much they were loved. It made a big difference in their recovery," says Rev. Irwin.

Chaplains try to be face-to-face as much as possible, but when that's not available, they can turn to phone calls, Zoom, and FaceTime to make that connection--something Rev. Irwin says is really what it's all about.

"Finding the way to connect that works for the patient and the family and also the staff because the staff are under a lot of stress," he explains.

Should you find yourself at Saint Alphonsus, there's a process to make sure your spiritual needs are taken care of.

"When you come in, you'll be interviewed and they'll ask 'do you have a spiritual tradition?,' and if they say yes, then we'll try to match that up. Then number two, we'll go in and visit everybody that we can that comes into the hospital because we believe here at Saint Alphonsus in healing for the body, the mind, and the spirit," says Rev. Irwin.

For more on chaplaincy at Saint Alphonsus, click here. Other information about Saint Alphonsus and its COVID-19 response can be found here.