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Manager of spiritual care helps Valley families as loved ones battle coronavirus

Posted at 7:24 AM, Jul 10, 2020

PHOENIX — The pandemic has changed countless ways we once lived, from where we go to who we see.

It's now changing the way we die as well, sometimes without family or friends there to hold our hands. But there are those who will make sure you're never alone.

“We’re there when nobody else is,” said Kimberly Murman, the senior manager of spiritual care at Banner Desert Medical Center.

Murman is tasked with finding the right words and messages for those in crisis. This at a time when the coronavirus has made a habit of dramatically changing our traditions.

“As humans, our number one thing is connection and this is a disease, this is a virus of disconnection,” Murman said.

Many fighting the virus are cut off from family and friends in an effort to slow the spread.

And when the time comes to say goodbye, Murman is ready to go to work.

“We do a lot of video prayers for patients, we do a lot of prayers outside the room,” said Murman.

At the moment, Banner Desert Medical Center chaplains are not allowed in the rooms of infected patients.

Nurses and limited family covered in PPE are the only ones who can stand at the bedside when the moment arrives, forcing Murman to think outside the box as she shepherds another life to its end.

“We’re really having to think, we’re developing tele-chaplaincy, we’re calling families, we’re getting families to write things so that we can take those things into the hospital room,” said Murman. “Sometimes families choose not to go in out of fear of infection and they’re just in the window.”

They’ve also partnered with other religious leaders who can’t be there to make sure each and every faith is honored.

“We’re learning about creating rituals that will work in a pandemic,” said Murman.

She says she draws her strength not only from her own faith, but from the incredible resiliency she sees in others -- many of whom go to work every day to save as many as they can.

“Before about 30% of our time was spent supporting staff, now it’s more like 80%,” said Murman.

The job is both daunting and valuable, providing hope while bolstering bravery for a faltering life.

It’s a job that’s needed now more than ever.

“I worry about our country come the end of the year, like when you sit around the Thanksgiving table, who's not there?”