There are some new faces walking the halls of MercyOne Siouxland, but they are not really there for the patients but for staff and they are already leaving their mark on the hospital.
"I feel really honored to be invited to help take care of the staff because they're just as smart as I am. And we have that we walked the same walk and I'm an employee, too." Lex Woodbury is one of two Spiritual Care Chaplains at MercyOne Siouxland. "Because we know that our nurses and the staff work really hard. So our job is to put some air under their wings."
He and Matt Wentz have been walking the halls of MercyOne since February, interacting with staff or just giving a unit a little spiritual guidance.
"Must to be able to interact with them, from people in PICU to ICU to really anywhere," said Wentz. "I try to go everywhere in the hospital whether somebody that's you're working on staff and just to let them know what we're doing and that we care for them."
There has already been a change among the staff and Director of Inpatient Nursing Wendy Prins has seen it firsthand. "I think staff have already started to warm up to the chaplains," she said. "It could just be just a basic conversation. Some of them yes, are sharing more than others. And I believe that as they get to know and become familiar with them and see them on a regular basis, we'll start to see them open up and more conversations will happen."
These interactions are coming after some of the hardest years ever felt in healthcare with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You know, COVID hit us for the last couple of years. I think healthcare in general, we just didn't realize how much of a toll is taken on our staff and family members and patients," Prins said of her team.
"And we are human beings, too and we need to be taken care of." Wentz says interacting with and getting to know MercyOne staff on a personal level is extremely rewarding. "Part of it is there's just a joy there really is an excitement among the staff when they find out what it is our job is and why we're doing it. They have big smiles on their face and they're like willing to share with us."
Lex and Matt aren't just there for the medical teams, but everyone on staff, for professional and personal guidance. "Because there are times I show up in the cafeteria area where they're taking care of and preparing food and doing the dishes and I just say hey, I'm here if you guys need anything, let me know and just to be able to visit with him," Wentz said.
"They're pretty delighted in that because they also have some concerns and some things that are weighing heavy on their heart." Woodbury agreed, "I can tell you that makes a difference. And sometimes somebody will come up and say, Well, I haven't really talked to you very much but I like to see you come by every night. It just gives me a feeling a good feeling of solidarity that you guys are here.
Because taking care of our medical staff means better care for us when we need them most," which is one reason why MercyOne Siouxland brought Lex and Matt on.
"In order for our patients or our employees to take care of our patients, they also need to take care of themselves," Prins said. "And this is a really big part of that having the chaplains here."
No matter your beliefs, what religion you practice, or if you even practice at all, sometimes all you need is a little faith.
"I've visited with lots of people from different faiths, different walks of life even and some of them don't have a faith and yet they share humanity with me," Wentz said, "and to be able to entertain and have that story kind of shared between the two of us. It's a really great thing."
Currently, Lex and Matt work late evenings and overnight, but MercyOne hopes to add more to their spiritual care team to cover all shifts and parts of the hospital.
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