REWRITTEN HEADLINE: As the COVID-19 Crisis Ebbs in the U.S, Experts Brace for Some to Experience Psychological Fallout, Stat News, May 2021
Since its beginning, Watermark Health has worked to meet the physical and spiritual needs of patients. The team has noted that as the COVID-19 Pandemic has continued, the related challenges and stressors have affected the general baseline of the emotional and mental well-being of patients.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we had many conversations with patients about anxiety and how to cope well and build healthy practices to mitigate its impacts.” shares Paige Delgado, RN and Watermark Health Clinical Coordinator.
“While it was sad to see how the stressors of the pandemic were impacting people, it was also a great opportunity to share about Christ with our patients and share from scripture how God’s wisdom can point us towards peace.”
Plano Clinic Charge Nurse Stacia Chandler has seen a similar reality. “It seems that isolation and fear have caused an increase in anxiety related medical complaints, like stomach aches, headaches, and maybe even high blood pressure.” explains Chandler.
“One of the ways we get to look different as a healthcare organization is by addressing the root reasons for these issues, not just treating the symptoms. Our Pastoral Care intake process really helps to uncover what is truly going on.”
As the pandemic has lingered on, clinical staff have continued to see higher acuity issues related to mental health. In recent months, the clinics have seen multiple individuals experiencing suicidal ideation and some even seen for wounds incurred after suicide attempts. Chandler had the chance this year to serve one of these such patients.
“We had one patient this year that we were so honored to walk with. They came through our clinic after a failed suicide attempt. They didn’t disclose that when they first arrived, but through asking intentional questions it surfaced that this is what was going on. Our team responded in the moment and after a series of follow up visits, we were actually able to witness this patient come to know Christ for the first time. It has been a story that has stuck with us this year, to see how much their life was changed.”
Watermark Health clinics have Pastoral Care volunteers on site daily to provide spiritual support and biblical counsel for patients, sitting with them in their grief, loss, pain, anxiety, or depression. During the visit they offer next steps with ministry partners, church programs, and medical resources.
“Watching our Pastoral Care team at work has been a joy.” continues Chandler. “We can watch the entire demeanor of our patients shift during their visit. Many walk in looking hopeless or distraught, and leave feeling that weight lifted.”
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites the tired weary and heavy-laden to come to Him for rest. He promises that He will carry their burdens with them. Perhaps that is the weight that Chandler speaks of. Perhaps that is the visible change that takes place as patients come and go from the building.