The Winning Essay

I submitted an essay for my department to win a national award. Winners will be announced end of summer 2021.

I am the Office Coordinator for the Pastoral Care department at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick New Jersey campus. Today I would like to share with you why my Pastoral Care department is deserving of The National Compassionate Caregivers of the Year award.

My Pastoral Care family is not only extraordinary and compassionate; they are simply amazing.

The true test of all caregivers came in early 2020 when COVID-19 hit, and my department was no exception. This “unknown enemy” thrust all of us into uncharted territory and we didn’t know what the future of Pastoral Care would look like. Yet, it showed us how truly adaptable and resilient we were, especially when it came to consistency of care.

As COVID numbers continued to rise in the hospital, my colleagues put their own fears and anxieties aside and made continuity of care of the patients family and staff first and foremost. When visitor restrictions were put into place our chaplains made countless phone calls to patients and families, letting them know that they were not alone or forgotten and that someone cared for them. Chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support (ESS) and, through the many conversations I overheard, ESS was transmitted over the telephone lines.

When our summer CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) unit had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, this left a shortage of coverage where our chaplain staff had to then cover weekends as well as weekdays. Not one complaint was ever heard even though chaplains sometimes worked for six days straight. Our chaplains never made it about them; it was always about others.

We are a Schwartz Center Rounds site. Though virtually, we continued conducting Schwartz Center rounds to uplift and support staff.

The glue which kept us all together, and still does, is our director and leader Christine Davies. Without her, we would not have gotten through the worst of COVID. Christine worked tirelessly to keep morale up. When the world around us was breaking apart Christine was, and still is, our Rock of Gibraltar.

I am proud to call Pastoral Care my home, and I am truly blessed with a gifted group of colleagues capable of providing care to the sick and dying while always remaining steadfast.

If my team, and my family, does not make for an extraordinary and compassionate caregiving team then I don’t know who would. My team, my family, exemplifies selflessness to the core.

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