In solidarity with other healthcare providers across Arkansas, St. Bernards Healthcare observed a “Day of Reflection and Healing” on April 27, acknowledging COVID-19’s impacts on each community throughout our region.
St. Bernards joined the independent health policy organization, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), in naming April 27 as a time to reflect on the lives lost, ongoing health impacts and efforts made to fight the virus.
Since March 13, 2020, the healthcare system’s flagship facility, St. Bernards Medical Center, has cared for more than 4,200 persons with COVID-19. In addition, the hospital recorded its highest patient volumes ever in January 2022, peaking with 128 hospitalized COVID patients.
St. Bernards Healthcare President and CEO Chris Barber said the virus has claimed nearly 2,800 lives in the 23 counties that St. Bernards serves in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. He added that the numbers are more staggering looking at Arkansas as whole, surpassing 11,000 deaths.
“Each life lost represents a hole within a family and a community,” Barber said. “Collectively, we’ve said abrupt ‘goodbyes’ to loved ones, friends, colleagues and mentors. Their absence leaves an irreplaceable void throughout our region.”
Despite these losses and the ongoing health struggles that many former COVID patients still face, St. Bernards Vice President of Mission and Ethics Sister (Sr.) Johanna Marie Melnyk said we have much hope. She encouraged thankfulness for the efforts made to fight the virus and for fewer infections seen recently throughout Arkansas.
“We’ll always mourn the loved ones we’ve lost, but Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew: ‘Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted,’” Sr. Johanna Marie said. “God is close to us even in the difficult times.”
Sr. Johanna Marie said St. Bernards has set aside a day to reflect together. She described it as a day that can help bring healing.
“I invite each person in our community to join us, taking a few moments for quiet reflection, meditation, prayer and Scripture reading,” she said. “Give your family and friends an extra hug. Tell them, ‘I love you.’ And let’s not forget to offer thanks for some blessing in our lives. As the Psalmist wrote, ‘Give thanks to the LORD for he is good, his mercy endures forever!’”
For more information on the “Day of Reflection and Healing,” visit ACHI’s website at https://achi.net/achi-board-proposes-day-of-reflection-and-healing-on-april-27-to-acknowledge-impact-of-covid-19/.