By Judy Eugenio
Instead of printing out my census of patients daily, a few months ago I began to use an iPad to check my patient list. This not only saves trees, it also puts music and art at my fingertips. Frequently I access YouTube to play songs for patients to help them with their relationship with God. I had a patient who was struggling with belief in God. After talking with him for about 15 minutes, I played “Believe,” by Josh Groban. When the song finished, he wiped the tears from his eyes and said that the song gave him renewed hope and new focus.
Another older patient had mild dementia and was anxious. She kept trying to get out of bed and was restless when in bed. I asked her what music she liked, and she said waltzes. I found a waltz on YouTube and played it. She smiled. When the waltz ended, she again became restless. I played a longer one. I put the iPad on my lap, took her hands and, looking at the patient, I said, “See, we’re dancing.” She smiled, forgot about her anxiety for a couple minutes, the nurses were able to do what they needed to do, and the patient kept smiling.
With the iPad, I am able to have many sacred encounters. I currently have 20 plus songs on my favorites in YouTube. Songs I have used include: “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” (Joshua Bullock), “That’s All the Lumber” (Mercy Me), “Shepherd Me O God” (Salesiankids), “Amazing Grace” (Native American by Gregory Baker and by truthcrisis), “I Can Only Imagine” (Mercy Me), “Angels Among Us” (Alabama), “You Raise Me Up” (Josh Groban), “You Are Loved” (Josh Groban), “God Will Make A Way” (Bluegrifter), “We Walk By Faith” (DecemberSnow), “Be Not Afraid” (Richard Carney), “The Serenity Prayer” (bspscaz7), “The Prayer” (Celine Dion and Josh Groban, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli), “Word of God Speak” (Mercy Me), “Heaven Got Another Angel” (Gordon True), and “Blessed Assurance” (Avalon) to name a few.
I played “Heaven Got Another Angel” for a mom whose child had died. After I played it, she commented how much it meant to her to hear the song. We never know what is going to touch our patients, but when allowing God to guide the conversation, he will also guide the song that the patient needs to hear the most. Some of the above-mentioned songs have scenes of nature and others of religious background. Some I’ve chosen have the words on the screen and others don’t.
Music is not the only way I’ve used my iPad to help a patient heal. A young child came into the Emergency Department one day after having been in a car accident. His mother and younger sister were transported to one hospital, and he and his older sister were brought to St. Jude Medical Center. He and his sister were transported separately. I saw him alone and scared, so I started talking with him. He told me he liked baseball. By this time, his aunt had arrived and his sister was brought in by ambulance a few seconds later. After seeing his sister, he was taken into a room to be checked out. I let him access the Internet on my iPad and search for his favorite team. He also searched for and found pictures of trains. This calmed him, and he could answer the questions the nurse was asking him.
I also have the “Pray-as-you-go” iPad app by Jesuit Media Initiatives and have bookmarked “Sacred Space,” a source of daily prayer online in many languages, as well as a Bible resource so that I am able to pull up Scripture passages without carrying the book or leaving the room to go after a Bible. I also have reflections such as “The Story of the Three Trees” that I have used with a support group. In addition to using my iPad with patients, I also have used it to show the NACC video on chaplaincy at my unit department meetings.
Judy Eugenio is associate chaplain with St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA.