ABC News Radio Specials: COVID-19 | Two Years, One Million Lives
ABC News recently featured Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital staff members including the Rev. Hannah Rhiza, chaplain, intensive care unit physician Oren A. Friedman, MD, and emergency department nurse Morgan Roverud, RN, in a special radio segment and online news stories marking 1 million lives lost to COVID-19 in the U.S.
At the start of the pandemic, little was known about the virus that causes COVID-19, treatments were minimal and those on the front line became overwhelmed. “It was exhausting,” Friedman told ABC News reporter Alex Stone. “The days were long, and everybody was working long shifts and extra hours, and people doubled up on shifts. People had to be creative marshaling resources.”
The virus spread rapidly with no vaccine available. Despite their fears and mounting pressure, healthcare workers rallied to serve the community. “There was a cohesiveness, I suppose, because everyone was on the same mission together to take care of all these patients. But it was also sad, and at times, it felt hopeless,” Friedman told Stone.
It was often scary, Roverud told Stone, but “the teamwork aspect here at [Cedars-Sinai] Marina del Rey and the friendships that you form with the staff and other leadership it just makes everything easier.”
To help alleviate the stress experienced by frontline healthcare workers like Roverud and Friedman, Rhiza created a spiritual cart to promote self-care. She steered the three-tiered cart decked out with candles through the halls of the hospital offering snacks, teas and a small tree on which staff members could hang paper leaves inscribed with prayers or hopes.
Rhiza and her cart have offered a sense of hope and calm for the Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital team. “Rather than inviting the staff to come to us, we ended up going to them, and there’s just a significance of meeting them where they are—and bringing spiritual care support where they are. And it had allowed the staff to feel seen and feel recognized,” Rhiza told Stone.