Since September 2019 I have been serving in the District Infectious Hospital in Warsaw, Poland, where there are six infectious wards and an intensive care unit. The first patients infected with the coronavirus came to my hospital in early March…
The hospital I work in is a typical hospital specializing in the treatment of infectious diseases. It is a leading medical centre for infectious diseases not only in Poland but also in Central and Eastern Europe. For example, our hospital treats patients with HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis B, jaundice or malaria. After the outbreak of the pandemic, the hospital was transformed into a unit that mainly deals with the hospitalization of COVID-19 patients.
The coronavirus is easily transmitted, so in my service to patients I have to keep the same safety measures as doctors or nurses. While working in the hospital I changed my black habit into a white suit or protective apron, and also protective gloves, a mask and a protective visor.
For safety reasons, the traditional form of visiting the patients by a priest in their rooms is temporarily suspended. However, patients staying in the hospital are informed by the staff about the possibility of receiving the sacraments. When one wish to do so, I go to meet him a particular room, wearing a protective dress. The medical personnel show full understanding, kindness and help in this respect. Thanks to this, in these difficult conditions, I can perform my priestly ministry to the coronavirus patients by hearing the confession, and offering the Holy Communion or the sacrament of the sick.
During this time of pandemic, I also perform my ministry for medical personnel – doctors, nurses, room staff. Every Sunday and holy day I celebrate Mass for them in the hospital chapel. I am also on duty in the chapel, serving the hospital staff with the sacrament of penance or conversation. Time of pandemic and work in the hospital is an important lesson for me that at any time and in any way you can carry out your missionary service as a Redemptorist.
Fr. Lukas Baran, C.Ss.R.