A message from Bishop Walkowiak:

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My brothers and sisters in Christ,

These days of the coronavirus and the protective measures to prevent its spread can be anxious and unsettling times for us all. For many Catholics, the restricted access to our beloved sacraments constitutes a great trial. Some may be wondering whether the sacraments will be available to them if they need to become hospitalized.

We have news regarding the four major health care systems in West Michigan and their policies regarding access of priests to Catholics and their facilities.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital:
Sp
iritual Care chaplains are available 24 hours a day to assess the spiritual needs of patients. If requested, they will call a patient’s priest to offer the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. If the patient’s priest is not available, the chaplain will contact another priest to offer the sacrament.

For COVID+ patients, Father Robert Mulderink (Basilica of St. Adalbert) is safely prepared to offer the sacrament of the anointing of the sick utilizing PPE supplied by the hospital.

Visitors are not allowed, outside of clergy who are called in to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

For additional visitor information, please visit: https://www.mercyhealth.com/about-us/news-and-media/visitor-restrictions 

Mercy Health Muskegon: updated information available soon.

Spectrum Health Hospitals (Butterworth and Blodgett):
General spiritual care will be provided exclusively in-person by the staff priest chaplain, Father John Bosco. Patients who wish to speak with their pastor will have to do so virtually.

If Father John is unavailable and a patient is dying, Spectrum will call another local Catholic priest from the diocesan response team list, or the family may request a clergy exemption to have their pastor come. These requests are processed by the visitor access team.

If a patient is in the hospital for routine reasons, Father Bosco is available to help with their spiritual needs. If a patient requests to celebrate the sacrament of confession or anointing of the sick with another priest, the hospital team will try to work with them to make this possible.

For the latest updates, please visit:
https://www.spectrumhealth.org/covid19/family-and-visitor-restrictions.

Please check with your local Spectrum Health Hospital for visitor policies pertaining to their campuses. The hospitals are willing to work with pastors to provide end-of-life care to patients.

Metro Health Hospital:
Spiritual care via video or phone as needed is available; this will always be encouraged first by Chaplain services. Priests will be allowed in to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and bring Viaticum.

If the patient has not been diagnosed with COVID-19, he/she will be able to call their pastor to celebrate the sacraments.
For COVID+ patients, Metro Health will call Father Peter Damian (St. Paul the Apostle Parish).
For additional information, please visit: https://metrohealth.net/about/covid-19-updates/hospital-visitor-policy/

Holland Hospital:
Priests will be able to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick for dying patients. For general visitor policies, please visit: https://www.hollandhospital.org/hh/visitor-guide.aspx.

Sparrow Health System:
A priest may visit to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and bring Viaticum to the dying. For regular pastoral visits, a member of the clergy or parish staff must be on a patient’s pre-approved visitors list. Only two visitors are allowed with a patient throughout their stay in the hospital. Visitors are not allowed in the ER. For additional information, visit: https://www.sparrow.org/visitorpolicy.

Please pray for an end to this pandemic. Let us pray for those who are sick from it. Let us pray for our health care workers who accompany the sick and serve them in their time of need. And let us commend the dead to the compassion and love of our Lord, the Divine Physician!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak
Bishop of Grand Rapids