Hospital chaplains help with spiritual healing, support during COVID-19 pandemic

Hospital chaplains are helping to provide spiritual support and healing for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hospitals are playing a key role in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. But it's not just the medical care by doctors and nurses that is so essential these days; the spiritual healing of those in need is also very much in demand.

It's been Nemesio Santana's life mission to serve. There's perhaps no better way to do that amid the COVID-19 pandemic than to be there for others.

"They need someone to talk to," said Santana.

A seminarian who is studying to be a priest, Santana found his current calling in becoming a hospital chaplain during a time it is needed most.

"They really feel lonely, they feel depressed and sad and when we as chaplains go there, they light up," said Santana.

"There's always a sense of peace, I find," said Father Chris Ponnet, pastor at St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care in Downtown LA. He helps lead a hospital chaplaincy program, and explains the chaplains are there when family members can't be.

"They're just very grateful that someone can be with their loved one, not only to pray with them but to be with them near their death so they're not alone," said Father Ponnet.

Like so many things, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the program to change quite a bit, including transitioning to this virtual graduation, held via Zoom video conference. Santana was one of six to graduate the program this past week.

"It is something beautiful because I am encountering the humanity of people and their reality of what they're going through," said Santana.
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