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AuthorWeatherspoon, David Mark
MetadataShow full item record
TitlePEDIATRIC HOSPITAL PASTORAL CARE IN A TIME OF COVID
AbstractABSTRACT DAVID MARK WEATHERSPOON PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL PASTORAL CARE IN A TIME OF COVID Under the direction of Graham B. Walker Jr. Spiritual care providers encountered the challenge of trying to provide pastoral care in a time of COVID. The context for this project involved a collection of pediatric hospitals within the United States where pediatric chaplains adjusted the way they serve patients, families, and staff following the onset of COVID-19. Having served as an ordained chaplain for eighteen years and a pediatric hospital chaplain for seven of those years, I interviewed pediatric hospital chaplains to learn what best practices were being cultivated among spiritual care providers in order to provide quality pastoral care rituals for patients, families, and staff. It was a primary goal of this project to identify the main ways pediatric chaplains altered their best practices of pastoral care rituals to comply with safety protocols through interviews from a cross section of 5-8 pediatric chaplains. From these conversations, I hoped to provide a summary of the innovative ways chaplains created structured experiences, from here forward known as “pastoral care rituals,” that established a focused sense of presence, security, safety, and at times, a self-identifiable change by patients, families, and/or staff. I looked for ways technological changes were effectively utilized by pediatric chaplains in being able to provide a professional standard of care. I assessed the ways pastoral care rituals were adapted to meet the challenges of social distancing and other safety protocols. Pediatric hospital chaplaincy distinguishes itself in the ways pastoral care rituals are provided to meet the scope of needs of children who are patients in need of care; their families who are assisting in the care of their children while in the hospital; and the staff who are uniquely trained to handle the nuances of caring for the health of children while also being sensitive to the needs of family members. This project utilized semi-structured interviews to capture the experiences of pediatric chaplains and how they adjusted their pastoral care ritual best practices during the pandemic. The project narrowed further as it focused specifically upon the positive developments realized by pediatric chaplains in their practice of pediatric pastoral care rituals during the pandemic. The primary themes concerning the innovations in pastoral care rituals that developed following the interviews with the pediatric chaplains were the following: 1. A marked increase and usage of technology: Pediatric chaplains confirmed their increase in technology to provide pastoral care rituals. 2. Creative innovations to pastoral care rituals: Pediatric chaplains were very innovative in how they provided pastoral care rituals post-pandemic. 3. Intensified focus on staff: Interviewed pediatric chaplains shared that staff had heightened spiritual care needs due to the pandemic. 4. Collaborative efforts increased: pediatric chaplains worked much more closely with other departments and outside clergy. 5. Advocacy for needs of self, profession, patients, families and staff: Participants sensed a heightened need to advocate and voice concerns for all layers of their hospital interactions. 6. Pediatric chaplains confronted systemic racism: Participants demonstrated a focused awareness of issues of race and the need and willingness to speak openly about racism and systemic racism within the hospital work environment.