Nursing Home Access: Impenetrable Wall

Pastors are still being kept from providing pastoral care to our members in nursing homes. This is obscene, and the laws designed to keep this exact scenario from happening are being used to enforce the policies. It is a truly wicked situation. Members are suffering, and pastors are beginning to show signs of PTSD, at least in my conversations with them. (Except there is nothing “post” about it. The horror drags on.)

I’ve put together the following. It fits on a business card, and can be carried by members. If they are admitted to the hospital or a nursing home, they can show it, and (in theory) the hospital should contact the pastor to do a “compassionate care” visit, even if the facility is under a COVID lockdown. It has two significant limitations: 1) Many nursing home residents aren’t aware enough to show this, and 2) I don’t know if it will work even if they were.

That’s the problem. I’m not a lawyer. The synod has lawyers on retainer. You would think this might be a priority for them. But the truth is, our synod’s leadership isn’t being kept out of nursing homes, because they don’t generally serve congregations. So they don’t even know it’s a problem.

We have a crisis of basic pastoral care. And I’m not hearing much of anything about it from those who are overseers in the church. So, maybe one of my dedicated readers will see this and forward it to someone who can make a difference.

Here’s the proposed card. Front:

And here’s the back:

Here’s the text, in case you want to copy/paste it:

Please Contact The Reverend Martin Luther at ###-###-#### to arrange for a Compassionate Care Visit.
Thank you.

I am requesting access to clergy of my choice in accordance with RFRA and RLUIPA. This is a request for a visit for the purpose of “Compassionate Care”, in order to meet my need for religious and spiritual support, in accordance with federal law and HHS memo Ref #QSO-20-39-NH, which says that “Compassionate Care Visits, and visits required under federal disability rights law, should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status… or an outbreak.”
If you do not believe that this request should be granted, please contact the facility Ombudsman.

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