January 13, 2021

Mater Dei Hospital, Argentina

from Sister M. Teresa Buffa, Argentina

Our Mission in the Year of the Pandemic

We sisters in the Mater Dei Hospital have experienced an extraordinary year. We were conscious that we, in the name of our entire international family, had to give a “credible” response in the field of health care.

One afternoon in March or April—these were very “dark weeks” in the hospital—we decided as a filiation: When the pandemic is over we will give the Blessed Mother a crown; we will crown the statue at the entrance to the hospital chapel. The main concern that we placed into the hands of the Blessed Mother on this afternoon were:

  • That none of our employees die of the coronavirus;
  • That every patient who need it gets a ventilator;
  • That the sacraments could be dispensed;
  • That the economic crisis would not be an obstacle to continuing our mission;
  • And the main concern: that the Blessed Mother would take care that the pandemic would become a time of transformation and grace for each individual and for the entire hospital.

The coronation was an expression of our helplessness, our availability as instruments and our profound trust in our Blessed Mother in a time of complete insecurity.

We Sisters of Mary were the first institution in Argentina to develop a

“Program for Accompanying and Supporting Covid-19 Patients and their Families.”

It was an arduous but fruitful team effort with diverse professionals that provided dozens of families an experience that was quite different from what most of health care facilities were offering on a national and global level. We pioneered the introduction of what was later called “The Right to Say Good-by:” the opportunity for family members to personally say good-by to their loved one who did not have a good prognosis or was in the hospital for a very long time.

This news about our program started to spread in the media. Public and private health care institutions and the Department of Health adopted from our protocol similar applications throughout the country.

Some snapshots:

♥  A., our first critically ill patient gained consciousness after several weeks of being unconscious. One of our sisters invited him to lead a new life after he—at the request of his wife—received the Anointing of the Sick while unconscious. When he met his wife again—after forty years away from his faith—he revealed to her: “I have a new partner.” She asked if he was thinking of starting a new business. “No, it’s not what you think it is. I have reconnected with God. It had done me good.”

♥  A nurse witnessed how B. was struggling with the decision to put him in the intensive care unit because of the severity of his illness. A few days after he woke up from the coma—he was a Jew—he confessed that whenever he was afraid he looked at the (image of the ) Blessed Mother in the intensive care unit and said: “Holy Mary, help me” and he regained his peace of mind. We could do anything else but give him this image of Mary to accompany him further on his path of rehabilitation.

♥  was one of our patients who died of Covid-19 during his hospital stay. His wife was with him at all times; he could receive visitors, and say good-by to his five children. His wife said that these weeks with him were like a spiritual retreat they made together. On the day of his going home to eternity while praying with her and her children in the hospital chapel, heaven touched earth.

Today we recognize with great gratitude: Our Queen took care:

  • That the ventilators sufficed;
  • Of us and every single employee;
  • And continues to care for our finances in this very difficult economic situation we live in as a country;
  • That patients received the Anointing of the Sick and those who were dying could say good-by to their loved ones and experience their closeness and affection;
  • That our awareness of having a mission in the service of life and human dignity was deepened and that this difficult period became a time of growth and of grace;
  • SHE has done it and she also has done it through us and our employees! We are touched by the seriousness with which the Mother of God has taken our concerns into her hands.

 

Recently we told the entire staff of the hospital of the secret of our promise to the Blessed Mother and then we all together prepared to place a crown of 12 stars on her statue which stands at the entrance to our chapel. The day of crowning was December 18 and our diocesan auxiliary bishop presided.