Patients’ well-being affected by isolation: St Luke’s Hospital appeals for chaplains and creative talent to lift spirits
by Gemma Koh // April 24, 2020, 6:22 pm
St Luke's Hospital is appealing for a variety of help to touch and nourish their patients and overworked staff. Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash
The Wednesday (April 22) announcement that Circuit Breaker will be extended another four weeks to June 1 extends the isolation of those separated from their loved ones living at different addresses.
“Patients miss the physical presence of their loved ones. This affects their well-being.”
Particularly hard hit are patients in hospitals. Except for very few exceptions, most haven’t been allowed to have visitors since the start of Circuit Breaker in April 7.
“Patients miss the physical presence of their loved ones. This affects their well-being,” a spokesperson at St Luke’s Hospital (SLH) told Salt&Light. The mission hospital, which cares holistically for their patients, has been taking more steps to engage and bring them cheer.
It also seeks to lift the spirits of staff and provide support for its chaplains. Like healthcare workers around the world, both groups have been working on overdrive since the start of COVID-19 and are “fatigued”.
SLH does not treat COVID cases. But like similar organisations, has been taking in non-COVID patients decanted from other community hospitals in order for them to accommodate the current surge in COVID-19 cases.
Will you help?
SLH is appealing for the following to help them:
1) Creative talents and celebrities to engage and encourage patients
SLH is looking for household names or anyone willing to share how they overcame a difficult challenge or time in their life.
They are also looking for creative talents to lead a sing-a-long.
Both segments will make up a daily 10-minute audio broadcast called Good Morning St Luke’s to cheer spirits and nourish souls as patients awaken each morning. It is modelled after the movie Good Morning, Vietnam starring Robin Williams. The broadcasts will debut this Monday. They will be led by their in-house music therapist in collaboration with volunteer Timothy Khoo of Desert Odyssey.
Segment 1: If you are keen to share your story of hope, please email* a short description of up to 300 words. SLH will contact shortlisted candidates for a pre-interview, and subsequently for an actual interview and recording via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Segment 2: If you are keen to lead the sing-a-long, please email* a recording of no more than 5 minutes via an online link (for example, Google Drive or WeTransfer). In the recording, please a) introduce yourself, b) introduce your selected rendition and why you chose it, and c) include the actual rendition.
*Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject heading, state “Good morning SLH_ Segment <1 or 2>_<your name>”. Remember to include your name and contact number.
SLH thanks all interested parties in advance. They may not be able to use all submissions and will only notify shortlisted candidates.
2) iPads, smartphones and devices for patients to video call their families
Most patients at SLH are from lower income groups and may not have such devices. The hospital will help them use the devices so that they can see the faces of their friends and families.
These devices can be new or used ones that are working. Please remember to include charging cables and charging heads.
3) Donations in kind or cash for Project Warm Hearts
The hospital welcomes these to warm the hearts of its frontline healthcare workers and staff at SLH, who are serving their patients during this long-drawn season.
Project Warm Hearts is an initiative by staff to encourage each other.
To donate cash (tax deductible), visit www.giving.sg/slh/keep_patients_safe
4) Chaplain assistants
SLH is asking churches to “prayerfully consider … the secondment of a person from your church to serve as an Associate Chaplin, alongside one of our seven Chaplains”.
This request was sent in a letter to churches, dated April 18, from Chief Executive Officer A/Prof Tan Boon Yeow, and Acting Head Chaplain Timothy Poon.
SLH is seeking “church staff with pastoral care experience and expertise, who will not need much by way of training and can hit the ground running” or existing staff who are currently not otherwise deployed, and/or furloughed missionaries, said the hospital.
The following are the details they can best envisage at this juncture:
- Character. A person of mature faith who exemplifies the love of Christ. They need to be emotionally resilient and of strong metal fortitude. Able to commit to work in a relatively high-pressure environment.
- Competence. A person with pastoral care experience and expertise, preferably with at least two years of requisite experience. Mandarin or dialect speaking would be an advantage.
- Chemistry. Able to work with the existing Chaplain and take instructions from him/her. Empathy for healthcare staff and patients, some of whom may have anxiety and fear. As they are not able to receive visitors, not even family, many of these patients are lonely and in need of deep compassion.
- Commitment. The church would undertake the salary/stipend for this person for the duration of the secondment. The commitment will be for at least a month, or longer if possible. The frequency on a weekly basis can be worked out, though preferably at least two or more days a week. Given the stringent conditions, this person would have to be dedicated to the work as Associate Chaplain, and not have any other responsibilities for the duration of the secondment. This is to prevent cross-contamination.
- Conditions. So as to ensure the person is able to function in this capacity, the Head Chaplain and a member(s) of the Chaplaincy Team will interview the prospective Associate Chaplain via video conferencing.
Since the early days of COVID-19, the seven chaplains at SLH have been working in physically segregated zones. It means that the chaplains are not able to cover each other. Restrictions also prevent volunteers from coming alongside them in the pastoral care of patients.
“The zoning also means that our chaplains are there for the pastoral care of hospital staff as well, which though generally not needed outside of this current pandemic, is much needed now.
“Both of us see our chaplains burning out (some have fallen ill with some frequency) and are experiencing compassion fatigue. They need supplemental help, urgently.”
If you are able to help, please email Acting Head Chaplain Timothy Poon, email@example.com
About St Luke's Hospital
St Luke’s Hospital, named after the patron saint of the medical profession, was the first hospital in Singapore dedicated to the elderly sick.
They have since expanded their services beyond the elderly to enrich more lives. An Institution of a Public Character, they care for 2,000 patients and 3,000 outpatients each year, regardless of race, language or religion. As illnesses may be long and chronic, the hospital cares holistically for patients’ physical, emotional and psychosocial well-being.