From skeptical to celebrating - virtual Pastoral Care
From day one, our clinics have infused spiritual care into the medical services we provide. We train and deploy every staff and volunteer to engage in spiritual conversations at our clinics - no matter their role on the team. However, it is often our Pastoral Care volunteers who take on the most lengthy conversations and help ensure that no patient is discharged without us engaging with them spiritually.
As COVID made face to face interactions more risky and forced us to re-think clinic flow, we began to consider ways to continue maintaining a high standard on spiritual engagement while minimizing exposure risks for both patients and volunteers.
In early August our Plano clinic began the process of innovating virtual Pastoral Care services. Instead of medical staff connecting patients with a live person on site to have lengthier spiritual conversations, they make the transition to a Pastoral Care volunteer on the other side of an iPad. The conversation would be able to function much like TeleHealth visits have looked in other clinical environments.
At first, the team was unsure if this would work and if patients would be open to more sensitive conversations via technology. One of our lead volunteers, Cheryl, was willing to help the team try it out.
“When I heard we were going to do it virtually, I was initially a little skeptical that it could work. I think we all were unsure that engaging over a computer would be received well. Then, after the very first patient we tried it with accepted Christ, we knew that God was in this. People have been incredibly receptive to talking over the iPad and it has allowed me to share with people just as well as before.”
Within Cheryl's first week of trying out virtual Pastoral Care, over ten patients had prayed to receive Christ! The Plano team was floored at the response and could see clearly that the Lord was pushing us to continue investing in that arena.
"There are so many conversations that I have left encouraged. Some because seeds were planted with nonbelievers, some with believers who needed to be reminded that God was still in control and still wanted to be in relationship with them. One of my favorites was a Muslim woman who came in willing to hear the gospel. I shared, but there was nothing profound in my presentation. I watched as the gospel message connected for her....her countenance changed. It was clear that God wanted this to be her day to be saved. She accepted Christ before she left."
In addition to celebrating the many patient encounters the Lord has allowed through virtual PC, Cheryl also began to notice that this new way to serve was having a positive impact on her as well.
“Coming back to do pastoral care, after five months of not serving, was wonderful. After my first visit back, I realized that getting out of the house and serving was something I needed. Initially it was going to be once a week, but it quickly turned into as many days as the clinic would allow me."