It was another sign of life returning to normal. Thirty-nine clergy men and women from across the region gathered at Trinity Health Riverside on March 24 for a day of ministry, the first since before COVID. The meeting and lunch were hosted by the Trinity Pastoral Team: Rev. Sylvester Onyeachonam, director of Pastor Care; hospital chaplains Reverend Brian Krebs, Reverend Michael Parker and Reverend Elaine Sveet; and the chaplain of Trinity Homes, the Reverend Luther Hanson.
Chaplain Onyeachonam called it a day to express appreciation and support each other.
“As we continue to serve our churches and church communities, whether as a priest, pastor, rabbi, imam or minister, coming together always provides an opportunity for us to support each other in these difficult times of the pandemic,” he said.
Pastors have shouldered a heavy burden during the pandemic, leading their congregations through virtual worship services, COVID restrictions that have isolated the sick, the weight of too many funerals and discussions within congregations about precautions in case of pandemic.
“It has been two difficult years” said Hanson, who updated clergy on evolving COVID restrictions at Trinity Homes by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and guidance from the North Dakota Department of Health.
“We have opened the north gate and the north parking lot” he said. “Screening procedures are still in place; my advice – use plenty of hand sanitizer and avoid visiting if you have any symptoms.
Krebs urged pastors to make self-care a priority.
“Self-care is about doing what helps you stay resilient – spiritual exercise, scripture, meditation, healthy eating, sleep, and exercise,” he said. He spoke of the looming issues of grief, loneliness, drugs, alcohol and mental health issues plaguing society.
“Bereavement is not a disorder, an illness or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity. The only cure for grief is to cry. he says, quoting Rabbi Earl Grollman.
Trinity Vice President Randy Schwan briefed clergy on hospital visitation policies. Guidelines were relaxed at the end of last year, with two visitors now allowed at a time per patient. Masks are still mandatory at all Trinity Health facilities, but he sees the day that may soon change.
“We hope that the federal government and industry regulators will remove burdensome restrictions,” he said.
He described the toll COVID-19 has taken on communities in the region: 1,250 people treated for COVID-19 at Trinity Hospital and a loss of 237 patients.
“By comparison, the average number of flu deaths in a typical year is 30,” he said, adding “I should note that our data never included patients who were in hospital for another condition and who had COVID. These are all COVID patients who have been treated for COVID by our medical staff. »
He added, “Trinity Health has always taken care of mind, body and spirit; this remains true today.
Trinity Health Foundation director Dusty Zimmerman gave the group a preview of what the chapel will look like in the new health care campus and medical district. The non-denominational chapel will provide a spiritual setting for people of all faiths to spend some quiet time.
“Our leadership understands the importance of physical health and spiritual health coming together,” she says. She explained how Trinity Health was founded by area churches 100 years ago and offered ways for them to get involved in building health care for generations to come through the current fundraising campaign.