As I write this, things have shifted in the Illinois Medical District. Anytime Chaplain Micheal or I come to work and enter Stroger Hospital of Cook County or Rush University Medical Center, we are required to wear a facemask. While this might seem innocuous enough, it has made me realize how much we all communicate nonverbally and how hard it is to interpret what someone is saying or the meaning behind what they are saying when I can’t see if they are smiling, their lips are pursed, if they are yawning because what I am saying is boring, or if their lips are curled down like they are sad. I am noticing I have to lean in more (which is hard while maintaining a distance of six feet) to truly hear and understand what someone is saying.

This time has also made me realize how much I miss seeing people in three dimension rather than flat on a computer screen due to how many videoconference calls I am on lately. It has also been hard to deliver spiritual care over the phone when my preference is face-to-face where I can hold a hand when I pray or touch someone’s shoulder. On a recent videoconference call I was on, someone wondered if we would remember how to get close to one another, how to hold someone’s hand or if fear would create a new normal where we maintained social distancing long after we needed to.

None of us have answers to these questions. We are still moving in unchartered territory and writing policies and procedures as we move through it much like the explorers who sailed for new lands and drew the map as they went. What I do know is that as the Illinois Medical District and the City of Chicago prepare for the expected surge, Bishop Anderson House will be there just as it has these last 72 years to support patients, families, our spiritual care visitors, and staff. While we have shifted how we work and what we do to first and foremost supporting medical staff (caring for the caregivers) we are still here.

Many have asked for what we need or how they can be of support right now. Please view the video Chaplain Micheal and I did this week and for those of you at home looking for something to do, here are a few tangible ways to be supportive:

Funds for purchasing healthy snacks for front-line healthcare workers (we cannot accept donate items directly due to contamination concerns):

  • Neuro ICU at Stroger: $60 per day or $300 for a week
  • Pediatric ICU at Stroger: $60 per day or $300 for a week
  • Medical ICU at Stroger: $60 per day or $300 for a week
  • Trauma Unit at Stroger: $100 per day or $700 for a week

Prayer Shawls, Cards for Staff (handwritten ones done by kids are especially meaningful).

Thanks to each of you for your support during this time. The one thing this has made me realize now more than ever is how interdependent we all are and how much we need each other as members of the human family.

Wishing you health and wellness,