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G Thing: Hospital chaplains finding new ways to say prayers with patients during pandemic

Posted at 11:07 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 23:07:16-04

MANHASSET, Long Island — As hospitals work to meet the physical needs of patients during this pandemic, they are also adapting to meet spiritual needs as well.

Hospital chaplains are being called to duty in many ways, they are still praying with patients, but now it's over the phone, and outside the room.

Armed with a prayer book and a face mask, Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox is adapting to the new normal at Northshore University Hospital.

“My life now it's unbelievable it’s busy and very tense,” he said.

Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox says he starts his day with prayers at 8 a.m, with the staff and then it's time for the patients.

“We have patients that are on respirators they are on ventilators and are unconscious and yet there's a request for prayers at their bedside. We don't go into the room; we are restricted from going into an isolation room, but we can go to the door of the rooms. In certain circumstances we are able to put a phone next to the patient’s ear and be able to provide prayer that way.”

The pandemic has hospital chaplains doing double duty as lifelines to families who are anxiously waiting by the phone for an update. Normally they would be beside.

“We're getting calls from both sides saying tell me more please, connect me, we've been married for 50 years and have never not been able to there for my spouse.”

But Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox does see hope.

“We have patients that go home from the hospital, it’s so heartwarming to hear a success story.”

His final words: “never lose hope, don't let fear chase away hope.”