’One of the worst things I’ve ever experienced in my life,' EAMC’s chaplain shares pandemic impact

’One of the worst things I’ve ever experienced in my life,' EAMC’s chaplain shares pandemic impact

OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - It’s been an emotional few months for the East Alabama Medical Center’s (EAMC) staff, including the chaplain.

The former Methodist minister shared it’s been devastating to see COVID-19 end dozens of lives in the area as the virus continues impacting the community.

“To be honest, it was one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced in my life,” EAMC Chaplain Laura Eason said.

As nurses and doctors help patients physically battle COVID-19 at EAMC, Eason helps patients, families, and staff spiritually fight the virus.

She said it’s been a tough battle the past two months.

“COVID-19 is absolutely devastating to families and our hospital staff, to see what this disease does to people," Eason said.

The pandemic has altered some of her day-to-day duties, Eason manning the task of organizing community-donated meals and PPE.

It’s also altered how families say goodbye to their loved ones.

“[Before the virus] we packed 20 people in a room, family members, to say goodbye to their loved one,” she said. “We haven’t been able to do that.”

Though the hospital allows a few family members to come say goodbye, Eason said for some, that’s not possible because of health issues, the threat of infection, or other factors.

But, she shared they have a saying at EAMC.

“No one dies alone,” Eason said.

She, along with nurses other healthcare heroes have stepped up to fill that void.

“We became surrogate family members,” she said.

And when families do visit, Eason said there still are some challenges.

“I’m a hugger,” she said. “It’s been really hard not to hug or love on people, especially staff or family members who have lost someone. That’s been very, very difficult for me.”

But she shared despite the physical distance, they’ll persevere with no spiritual distance between them.

“I think we are getting through it together and we’ve been an incredible support for one another,” she said.

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