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Mercy Hospital Chaplain Reflects On Loss And Love In 2020

More than 1,000 people in the bi-state St. Louis region and nearly that many across Missouri have died of COVID-19 as of this week. 061920
Kristen Radtke for NPR
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“The two words that really have come up for me in this pandemic — and I’ve seen on the floor — are the issues of isolation and helplessness,” said the Rev. Allison Wible.

The past year has been a tough one for many people. On top of the uncertainty and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, there’s been a lot of sadness and loss.

For the Rev. Allison Wible, these things aren’t just a fact of 2020. They’re her job.

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Allison Wible
The Rev. Allison Wible is a hospital chaplain for Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

“I’ve had several conversations with people who are anticipating being intubated, and that’s a scary conversation to have, to see that looming on the horizon for someone,” said Wible, who works as a hospital chaplain for Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

“I have conversations with family members … in a situation where they’re trying to decide whether or not they should be at the bedside, because we have allowed family members in at end-of-life situations,” she continued. “We’ve tried to help facilitate communication by video visits, or sometimes families will send me a picture to print out to place on someone’s wall.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Wible reflected on the quiet, unseen moments she’s been witness to over the past year as she works with COVID-19 patients, their families and hospital staff.

“The two words that really have come up for me in this pandemic — and I’ve seen on the floor — are the issues of isolation and helplessness,” she said. “But there’s also … the part where you see people come together and you see family members able to find meaning and find ways of saying goodbye.”

On the worst days, Wible said she draws strength from her coworkers and hospital staff, whom she credits with showing resilience and creativity in their work.

“None of us chose COVID, right? No one chooses this. And yet, they’ve really risen to the challenge, and they’re caring,” Wible added. “They inspire me to keep going.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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