Colorado hospital chaplains serve as link to family members during coronavirus pandemic

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PARKER, Colo. (KDVR) — There are many stories about COVID-19 patients dying alone in hospitals, miles from their families.

However, when it comes down to it, most are not actually alone, thanks to hospital chaplains like Megan Cox.

“I consider it sacred. They need hope. They need encouragement, they need inspiration to keep trying,” said Cox, a chaplain at Parker Adventist Hospital.

Cox’s path to becoming a chaplain began 22 years ago when one showed up on her doorstep, to let her know both her mother and father had died in a car crash near Fairplay.

“I remember every word he said. I remember every word the police officer with him said,” explained Cox. “I never got to see my parents after they died. I did not see them in a casket. They were there and then they were gone. That affected me. It made healing harder,” she said.

Two decades later, Cox is now guiding families through what she went through as a hospital chaplain herself.

Nowadays, she’s often connecting families to COVID-19 patients through technology like Zoom, since families are not being allowed in hospitals due to COVID-19.

Cox is one of the few people who actually enters hospital rooms during the pandemic to hold the hands of coronavirus patients as they pass from this world to the next. She says most are patients she will never forget. One stands out in particular.

“There was a window and I put up my hand and would pray with him and he would put his hand up and pray with me. It was very special, very precious. I’ll never forget that patient, and he didn’t make it,” Cox said, fighting back tears.

Hospital chaplains like Cox are currently acting as the link connecting families to COVID-19 patients when hospital visits are not allowed.

Dan and Evonne Panther lost their son Zach last week. He died 14 days after being admitted to Parker Adventist, following an accident.

“It’s kind of like if a mom had a newborn baby and couldn’t hold him, it’s kind of the same at the end of life,” Zach’s dad Dan said.

Fortunately, the Panthers did get to be with their son the last day of his life, but they say they relied on Cox to prepare him for his next journey.

“We relied on Chaplain Meg to be our voice to Zach when we couldn’t be the voice. We relied on her to be the hands to touch him when we couldn’t talk him,” said Evonne Panther.

“What I’m seeing personally is when people are afraid, this afraid, they turn to God, because they need something so much bigger than the hospital and the diagnosis,” said Cox.

Cox knows how important her job is, but that doesn’t make the work easy. However, she says she’s proud to be helping families during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s the sacred part. That’s the part that keeps my integrity at a very high level, because I know I need to choose my words. I know what I’m saying will echo in their ears for years,” she said.

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