In March 2020, when the pandemic was first declared in Saskatchewan, chaplains were told that as “volunteers” within the health system we were not allowed to offer spiritual care in health care facilities. Eventually restrictions were eased and we were allowed to offer spiritual care for end of life, and bit by bit we were allowed into the hospitals. But because of cohorting of all staff in long-term care facilities (none were allowed to work in both long-term care and acute care facilities), chaplains continued to be restricted to only end-of-life visits. Those restrictions were lifted for chaplains in early August 2021. On August 6th I offered spiritual care to residents at Wascana Rehab whom I hadn’t seen for 17 months. All of us were delighted to be able to visit in-person one-on-one, despite the mask and physical distancing. I heard joy at being able to pray together in person again. I heard the pain and loneliness residents had experienced being isolated from family and friends, and often residents on the same unit. Many spoke of missing being able to participate in the monthly United Church worship services which used to happen in the chapel before CoVid.
Throughout that time of restricted in-person visiting, I kept in contact with residents via Well Wishes – a service on the Sask Health Authority website that allows me to send emails which are printed and delivered to residents. I checked my files and I sent at least 1280 emails to Wascana Rehab and the hospitals in those 17 months. Follow this link Well Wishes | SaskHealthAuthority to send your own emails to family and church family and friends. Definitely available for Regina and Saskatoon hospitals, as well as in a number of other regions of the province.