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Monday, November 16, 2020 - STHS caregivers receive blessing of the hands

St. Tammany Health System caregivers participate in a blessing of the hands administered by the health system’s hospice team on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. (Photo by Mike Scott / STHS)

By Mike Scott, mscott@stph.org

As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide more than eight months into what has become a historic pandemic, members of the St. Tammany Hospice team made rounds at St. Tammany Health System’s Covington hospital on Monday morning (Nov. 16, 2020) to bless the hands of the caregivers, administrators and support staff there and to pray for their continued strength.

“Blessings of the hands are always popular,” Hospice Chaplain Lonnie Thompson said, “but they’re particularly big this year because of COVID and all the stress and strain that’s placed on our nurses and doctors.”

Thompson, who was accompanied by Hospice Bereavement Coordinator Stephanie Atwood, Nurse Liaison Jeanne Goubert, and Social Workers Tamara Richardson and Makayla Thompson, started the morning with a 9 a.m. visit to the hospital’s Emergency Department. From there, they made rounds throughout the hospital, visiting various units including the Intensive Care and Critical Care Units, and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. By 12:30 p.m., they finished things up in the administrative offices.

Technically, the blessing was held in coordination with Hospice Month, wish is recognized in November. But Atwood said they thought it was only appropriate to shift whatever recognition they could to the hard work and sacrifices made by the health system’s doctors, nurses and support staff during the pandemic.

“We wish to take the time to recognized and thank all of you for the selfless care you provide to the patients and families of St. Tammany Health System,” she told those gathered for the blessing in the hospital’s Cardiology – Medicine unit. “We understand how difficult the days can be, especially with the obstacles we were faced with this past year. Your strength and resiliency have shown through and proved to our community the true heroes you are.”

The hands of those gathered were then anointed with blessed oil – scented with frankincense – and Chaplain Thompson offered a brief prayer.

Participants were then invited to choose a river stone, each with an inspirational word inscribed upon it.

“You have and continue to dedicate yourselves to your role as caregivers,” Atwood said. “It does not go unnoticed.”  

As of Monday morning, St. Tammany Health System had 17 inpatients under COVID care. That’s up from 12 COVID patients being treated Saturday at the Covington hospital and five patients being treated there three weeks ago.

St. Tammany Hospice Chaplain Lonnie Thompson, foreground, blesses the hands of St. Tammany Health System Nurse Practitioner Anne Thiel on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. (Photo by Mike Scott / STHS)

Members of St. Tammany Health System’s team of caregivers raise their hands as Hospice Chaplain Lonnie Thompson confers a blessing on them. (Photo by Mike Scott / STHS)

St. Tammany Hospice Social Worker Tamara Richardson anoints the hands of Health System President and CEO Joan Coffman with scented oil on Monday as part of a blessing of the hands ceremony. (Photo by Tim San Fillippo / STHS)

Members of the St. Tammany Hospice team, from left, Chaplain Lonnie Thompson, Nurse Liaison Jeanne Goubert, Bereavement Coordinator Stephanie Atwood, and Social Workers Tamara Richardson and Makayla Thompson lead a blessing of the hands at one of the nursing stations in St. Tammany Parish Hospital. (Photo by Mike Scott / STHS)

St. Tammany Hospice Bereavement Coordinator Stephanie Atwood, far left, and Social Worker Tamara Richardson anoint the hands of St. Tammany Health System caregivers with scented oil. (Photo by Mike Scott / STHS)

In addition to blessing their hands, the STHS Hospice team invited the health system’s caregivers to choose a stone printed with one of several inspirational words such as ‘strength,’ ‘trust,’ ‘honor’ and ‘love.’ (Photo by Tim San Fillippo / STHS)

St. Tammany Hospice Chaplain Lonnie Thompson, far left, blesses the hands of St. Tammany Health System caregivers. (Photo by Mike Scott / STHS )

Members of the St. Tammany Health System administrative team have their hands blessed by St. Tammany Hospice representatives on Monday. (Photo by Tim San Fillippo / STHS)