Aunt Bertha|The Social Care Network: Chaplain profiles from the pandemic

From Jim Tuttle and Cecily Sailer at Aunt Bertha|The Social Care Network: 

With regular caseloads of more than 60 families, Hospice Austin Chaplains Katrina Shawgo and Nettie Reynolds would each routinely visit three or four homes a day to spend time with terminally ill patients and their loved ones. These visits might include bedside prayers, music, poetry readings, and deep conversations.That was before the pandemic changed everything.

“We’re all trying to maintain each other’s health and safety,” Katrina says. “A lot of the families don’t want extra people in their homes for the same reason. The last thing somebody who is already suffering with a terminal illness needs is to get the coronavirus on top of it.”

Hospice Austin is a nonprofit organization that provides end-of-life care for anyone who needs it, often in their homes, but also in hospitals and nursing homes. Eligible clients have received a diagnosis of a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than six months, although it’s not unusual for people to live longer.

“Everybody is unique,” Nettie says. “Chaplains are here not just to show up at the very end of life. We’re here to be in that last movie of your life, to be a bit player with your family to help that movie be as joyful and calm and pain-free as possible.”

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