At St Patrick's College, Maynooth, one of our hopes for our graduating students is that they will go out into the world and find ways of contributing meaningfully to society. Shauna Sweeny, graduate of both the BATh Theology and Arts and our Masters in Pastoral Theology programme is making a wonderful contribution to the lives of patients and family members at Tallaght University Hospital in her role as Chaplain during the extraordinary times that we are currently living:
Shauna Sweeny, Chaplain, Tallaght University Hospital.
“This new strange way of life in the hospital is something that every healthcare professional is learning to adjust to. To see our patients having to go through this unthinkable ordeal is heart-breaking. Patients have not seen their family in weeks and feel isolated and lonely. Families are at home waiting to hear from the hospital and feel helpless. Staff are dealing with extremely stressful situations that change every day.
As a chaplain in such an unusual time, it is my role to try and support patients and staff in the hospital and to make space for them to share their fears. It is extremely harrowing to see what patients and families are going through with this pandemic. Typically families would be with their loved ones morning, noon and night but that cannot be the case now.
A young man with a young family was dying yesterday. His wife and brother came in to say their last goodbyes to him. I facilitated the visit with them, they had 15 minutes to see him and say goodbye as they would never see him again. They were surrounded by people with masks, goggles, hair nets, and no faces to see. This alone put so much fear with them and they too were instructed to wear the full PPE. It is utterly heart-breaking. The reality of the current situation feels inhumane and not what we as carers are used to.
Staff and volunteers in the hospital have crocheted pairs of love hearts that fit in the palm of the hand - a set. When I met with the wife and brother of this patient, I gave them one love heart to put into his hand, knowing that he would have something of theirs and I gave them the matching heart, to always have to show their son and to know that he was not alone.
Patients are our priority and an initiative that the hospital set up is that every ward has access IPads that patients if well enough can facetime their families. If patients are too unwell the Chaplain calls the family after visiting and lets the family know how their loved one is doing. It gives the chaplain an opportunity to connect in with the family and see how they are doing as well.”
Credit: Archdiocese of Dublin, Press Release, Friday 17th April 2020