Augusta University Health chaplains offering spiritual care during coronavirus pandemic


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — While hospitals work to curb the spread of COVID-19, health care chaplains are working tirelessly to comfort and counsel patients and staff members, even as they risk becoming infected themselves.

“The number one thing that I’ve heard during this time is, our staff afraid they might take this virus to the people they love,” said Rev. Dr. W. Jeffrey Flowers. “We talk about the real nature of that, and how we’re doing the protection to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

It can be overwhelming for folks diagnosed with COVID-19. Augusta University Health Chaplains are offering comfort during the pandemic. Rev. Dr. Jeffery Flowers and his team of chaplains serve as spiritual healers for patients and staff members when responding to emergencies. He says spiritual care is more important than ever, as people worry about the coronavirus impact.

“One of the things we try to do is be intentional in providing spiritual care for patients, our staff, and communicate to the families who can’t be here,” explained Flowers.

Rev. Flowers says the challenging part is making sure people aren’t dealing with the virus alone. One of the chaplains or volunteers will FaceTime your loved one, say a prayer, then hand the phone over to the person who is battling COVID-19.

“Many people who have family, we know that loved one would be there,” said Flowers. “Now, they are not able to be there, and that’s a significant moment. If we can help bridge that gap in any way, believe that’s our mission.”

Right now can be stressful for those on the frontlines or patients. Rev. Flowers says he has learned to watch the eyes of a person wearing a face mask.

“The eyes tell a real story,” said Flowers. “Sometimes, when you look into someone’s eyes, you can tell if they’re emotional. When we read that, we try to respond to them out of care.”

Rev. Flowers has served as a chaplain for AU Health for 25 years. He says the best feeling is those patients and staff trusting him or his team to talk about whatever they are feeling during this health crisis.

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