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Los Angeles Daily News: Hospital chaplains fill role of surrogate family members during times of isolation, depression, death

The Los Angeles Daily News recently interviewed Rabbi Jason Weiner, PhD, senior rabbi and director of Cedars-Sinai's Spiritual Care Department, for an article about how hospital chaplains' roles have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. As hospitals have limited visitors to protect patients and staff, chaplains have become a critical bridge for loved ones.

In the Daily News story, Weiner recalled a touching request from a hospitalized patient's husband: “Can you tell my wife I love her?” It was the first time in 65 years that the couple had not slept in the same room together. "Do you know what that's like?" the husband asked Weiner.

“That was powerful and deeply moving,” Weiner told the Daily News. “I gave his wife the message and she acknowledged it with a nod.”

In addition to guiding patients and their families through challenging times, chaplains help staff and patients celebrate religious holidays. During the pandemic, Weiner has adapted rituals to meet changing public health guidelines while also connecting local Jewish community leaders with Cedars-Sinai experts for advice on how to safely observe religious rituals.

In April, Weiner improvised to help hospitalized patients celebrate Passover and Easter in small, meaningful ways. He posted a sign in the intensive care unit that said "Happy Passover" in English and Hebrew for a devout patient who was seriously ill.

“Because Passover meant so much to him, his wife suggested we put up the sign on the ICU’s glass windows,” Weiner told the Daily News. “He saw the sign and gave a nod.”

Click here to read the complete story from the Los Angeles Daily News.