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Catholic healthcare workers on the COVID-19 frontline

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A nurse speaks with patients at the door of a new COVID-19 clinic opening at Mount Barker Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, March 17, 2020. (CNS photo/Kelly Barnes, AAP Image via Reuters) See COVID-AUSTRALIA-MASSES March 19, 2020.

Australian Catholics in the health sector are fighting on the frontlines of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Armed with medical skills and faith, they risk exposure to themselves and their loved ones for the safety of the wider community.

The Catholic Weekly spoke with young Catholic father and Nursing Assistant, Jack Cramer, from the Parish of Holy Cross in Redcliffe, Queensland, on the effects of COVID-19 on his workplace  at an aged care facility in Brisbane. While COVID-19, when the Weekly spoke to Jack, had not yet to reached his workplace, precautions were already being implemented.

Jack Cramer a young Catholic in his uniform before going to work PHOTO: Milla Cramer

“Day to day work has changed in the way we are having to do things. We now have extra cleans and extra hand washes to try to slow things down.” he said.

I have a family

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Jack, his wife Milla, and their two-year-old daughter Nina share accomodation with Jack’s elderly grandmother Betty in Redcliffe. The threat of COVID-19 is therefore very real for his immediate loved ones – young and old. “I have a family. It is one thing hearing about everything in the news and another thing to see the consequences and actions taken in your own life. It brings a reality to the situation that is confronting.”

In light of the situation, however, Jack said he had become more reliant on prayer especially with devotion to the Virgin Mary to protect himself and others at work – a habit that before COVID was not as strong.

I always pray to Our Lady and thats keeps me staying on track

“When I am at work I am lot more conscious. I always pray to Our Lady and thats keeps me staying on track – by praying ‘Hail Mary’ over and over again in my head. All day long I just pray to Our Lady to help me. Before I didn’t usually do that.”

“All day long I just pray to Our Lady to help me. Before I didn’t usually do that.” says Jack Cramer. Pictured is a medieval icon of Mary punching Satan analogous to her protection against the maladies of COVID-19 to all who implore her intercession and undertake the necessary precautions such as social distancing Source: CNA

The importance of prayer is even more important given the absence of physical communion at Mass due to restrictions said Jack. “A lot of Catholic healthcare workers go to Mass early in the morning. But this is not available anymore. So we have to turn to more prayer to make up for that.”

A young Catholic family. Jack Cramer with his wife Milla and their two year old daughter Nina PHOTO: Milla Cramer

Despite the daunting situation Jack said he has confidence following preventative procedures such as frequent hand washing as well as trust in prayer. “I am doing all the correct preventative procedures and saying my prayers and that gives me confidence in protection,” he said.

Say your prayers and follow precautions

Jack’s advice to other Catholic healthcare workers: “Say your prayers and follow precautions and if you do those two things you’ll be alright.”

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