Just as I pushed “Up,” the elevator doors opened, and out stepped a guy in a tweed overcoat, buttoned, collar up. A hospital gown peeked out below the coat, barely covering the spindly bare knees, and bright yellow no-slip socks covered his feet. He shot me a guilty look, then broke into a trot as he hustled across the lobby toward the doors.
“Wait!” I shouted, as he exited into the winter sunshine. “Stan!”
The guard behind the lobby desk followed Stan with his eyes, then turned to me.
“No worries,” he said. “Happens all the time. We’ll get ‘im.”
The hospital chaplain’s normally gone at this point, because you’re dead, after all, and your loved ones are gone. But for some reason I don’t want to leave you just yet. Your sister and your friends made for the elevators just minutes after the RN noticed your death on her monitor and joined us in the room to whisper “He’s gone.” Booming news, delivered like a puff of smoke. Relief and grief; exhaustion and adrenaline….
In 2023 I completed my Master’s thesis on the topic of how healthcare chaplains perceive and can mitigate the effects of bias towards racialized groups in U.S. healthcare institutions, and I had the help of a terrific faculty thesis advisor, Lonnie Valentine….