ICU Doctor’s COVID-19 prayers answered

07 December 2020

At the end of 25 hour shifts in The Wesley Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Dr Gemma Dashwood turns on the hospital’s live TV broadcast, clicks record on her Facebook page and joins her hands together in prayer.

DR Gemma Dashwood ICU

As an ICU Registrar at The Wesley Hospital, Dr Gemma Dashwood faces confronting cases on a daily basis, caring for people in the most challenging time of the lives. As those challenges compounded through COVID-19, Dr Dashwood combined her Theology study at St Francis College with her role as a doctor, and broadcast her prayer from the hospital’s chapel. 

“If it’s been a long, hard shift it’s a big effort to put myself in front of a live screen. But every time I get into it and actually forget the tiredness and the fatigue because I get immersed in what I’m doing.

“By the time I go home I feel like I’ve managed to offer everything up and let go of any of the traumas that have happened in the last day. Whether you have a faith or not, just having some quiet time when you just let everything go is really good therapy for traumatic situations.”

Dr Dashwood said that it’s an acknowledgement of how important faith is in her life.

“Yes I’m medical and science- based… but that doesn’t have to exclude a faith. And for those people who have been in hospital and were unable to have family visiting, it allowed them to tap into someone and something else.

“It’s definitely been a huge challenge medically and pastorally. It’s really hard when you have to keep people away from their loved ones when they are really sick. Broadcasting prayer was one way of linking people into the outside world that they couldn’t otherwise see.”

“It’s been rewarding to broadcast to more than just a few Theology students, and feel that I can impact other patients that I may not be impacting in my ward. It’s actually been a gift in all of that mess.”

Dr Dashwood said the opportunity to have a Pastoral role as well as a Medical role drew her to the field of Intensive Care.

“It can be very complex and very emotional sometimes… but that is what really attracted me… dealing with the sickest of the sick, at really important times of their life. Even back in the medical student days, I liked that you could sit with someone in a really dire point in their life and work through it with them.”

Dr Gemma Dashwood_chapel

As COVID-19 restrictions ease across Australia, Dr Dashwood acknowledges that it’s been a very tough year for Australian healthcare workers, and continues to impact frontline worker globally.

“For me prayer and meditation is very powerful. It’s a very stressful time and people need to go easy on themselves and give themselves enough time to recover.

“The staff and students of St Francis College continue to regularly pray for all those working on the front line…  Everyone is upheld in prayer globally with what we are doing and how we are managing COVID-19.”

The Wesley Hospital thanks Dr Gemma Dashwood for sharing her faith and hope with our patients through COVID-19, and we congratulate Gemma on her Ordination on 5 December 2020.

Read more: ABC News: Paralympian, doctor and deacon: The extraordinary story of Gemma Dashwood — a champion swimmer mixing medicine and faith


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