Atrium Health chaplains pivot from traditional services in order to tend to patients during COVID-19

Coronavirus Updates, News | 5 months ago

Chaplains Find New Ways to Provide Essential Spiritual Care in Challenging Times

Atrium Health chaplains working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are providing essential services to patients and their families. But, with social distancing guidelines in place at facilities, these spiritual leaders are having to adjust how they comfort the sick and their loved ones.

Editor's note: Our chaplains are pictured ready for the day — before putting on necessary masks and other protective gear — and ready to care for our patients and teammates emotional and spiritual needs.


A chaplain is a leader of faith who provides spiritual services to a specific institution, such as a healthcare organization. Whether it's a prayer, a moment of meditation or words to provide perspective, chaplains are always there as a steady source of comfort. Atrium Health is proud to have chaplains within our walls to provide spiritual care for our patients, their families and even our teammates during times of need.

As coronavirus has affected the way we all work, the social distancing parameters has specifically affected our chaplains who often rely on closeness as a way to provide comfort to patients and families. Recognizing that their services are important now more than ever, our chaplains have made it a priority to adjust their routines in order to tend to those in need of counsel in the safest way possible.

With these new changes in place, Atrium Health’s chaplains begin each morning with a short inspirational prayer and moment of reflectiongathered together via virtual video conference to practice safe social distancing.  

It’s one of the many adjustments they’ve made to provide spiritual care to teammates, patients and their families through the coronavirus disease 2019 response. 

Chaplains are now wearing new lavender-colored scrubs to serve as a positive, bright and calming sight, and to remind teammates of the tenets of our Code Lavender compassion program. While rounding in our facilities, they’re also wearing the proper personal protective equipment to keep everyone safe.   

While the protective equipment is essential for our and the patients’ safety, it’s not covering our hearts, and the compassion still can shine through,” says David Carl, executive director of spiritual care and education at Atrium Health“Compassion is the fuel for resilience, which is exactly what all of us need right now.” 

Chaplains are serving as an uplifting presence for teammates during these difficult times and are regularly providing Code Lavender care bags filled with candy and an inspirational message. 

“Our thought is that enhances their ability to bring compassion toward others,” Carl says. We take very seriously the stress that teammates are under. 

Rev. Greg Hathaway, director of operations of Spiritual Care and Education at Carolinas Medical Centeris helping teammates to stay spiritually uplifted by sharing video of chaplains reciting prayer messages for teammates to view. 

While chaplains were used to sitting directly beside patients, holding their hands and offering a sign of blessing, they’re now sharing that same love and compassion from a further distance. 

One way is by ministering through video conferencing apps on iPads, smartphones and laptops. Chaplains are even coordinating to help patients video chat with their families who can no longer visit and their faith’s local religious leaders – something that many people desperately need, especially around the upcoming high holy days for several religions.    

Carl encourages all to continue seeking the silver lining, and to write down three positive or inspirational things that happened during the day before going to bed. 

Its something that we can all do, and it works.