Hospital chaplains surprised with sweet treat

RICHMOND, Va. -- In an effort to make Christmas brighter for those in the community, CBS 6 and Virginia Credit Union have teamed up to present the Month of Giving.
Every day, a member of the CBS 6 family will be out in the community surprising someone with a holiday gift.
Antoinette Essa recently surprised the chaplains at VCU Health who are among the sometimes unsung heroes working on the front lines during the pandemic.

"We're going to present [the chaplains] with some donuts, because they run around and sometimes they don't have time to eat," Antoinette explained. "We are grateful to the doctors and the medical team, but we're also grateful to you as chaplains, because you're on the front line as well."

Antoinette spent more than three months as a student intern chaplain, so she said she knows firsthand the incredible work they do.

"You get called to all the traumas, to the cold blues, to all the emergencies. You take care of mothers who lose their children, their babies, you take care of families," Antoinette told the group. "And so it is challenging work, and you do it with a smile in your heart and with God on your side, so I just wanted to say thank you."

Click HERE to see the Thanks!

Callahan interview

Jason Callahan

Humanist chaplain for the Thomas Palliative Care Unit at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center, Richmond, Virginia.

Jason Callahan

How has your work changed due to the pandemic?

The palliative care aspect of things has changed tremendously. Since we were getting ready for the potential influx of COVID-positive patients, for end-of-life care, we began finding options for patients who wanted to get discharged home. There is a lot more staff care being done because of the risks of being a caregiver in this environment and the toll it takes on people daily. We have taken on the family role as well. We loved our patients before, but now it means something else entirely.

What are some things that you do that you’ve found to be especially comforting for coronavirus patients and their families?

Constant communication is key. We just have to do that a lot more to reassure families and patients. Listening and finding a way to put pieces of them in the room goes a long way as well. I’ll get emails from families that will send me pictures to print up and post in the patients’ rooms. Or I will write down an inside joke from a family member and have the nurse read it to the patient when they go in, just to get a smile.

Has the pandemic changed how you feel about your work?

I feel like chaplains are more essential now than ever. If chaplains were expected to justify our presence in health care systems before, I bet now people are starting to see the need to have us clear as day.

Farewell to our Alums

It's with sadness I report that this week the Departments of Pastoral Care and Patient Counseling suffered 2 very sad losses. It's so hard to report that 2 of our alums have passed onto their reward. Nancy Hauser and Darrel Baker were stellar chaplains. You always knew that you could depend on them to walk with you when facing a crisis. In ministry they gave of themselves unselfishly and without looking for anything in return. We lost 2 giants in chaplaincy but we hold onto our memories of them. We bid them farewell, until...