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Coronavirus: The chaplains toiling on the frontlines

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From FaceTiming worried families to helping doctors and nurses with “combat fatigue”, spiritual care workers in hospitals have been thrust onto the pandemic’s frontlines.

Rocky Walker has come closer to death as a hospital chaplain in the coronavirus pandemic than he did as a soldier in the 1991 Gulf War.

“It was very scary, very dangerous,” he says. “Working in the ICUs and seeing all that suffering and seeing families being decimated by this thing: I didn’t see that in combat, I saw it first hand here.”

In America’s present-day reckoning with death, spiritual care workers have been thrust onto the frontlines in new ways. And they have played a crucial role in making sure that patients isolated by the contagion of the coronavirus do not die alone.

Walker’s job as a chaplain for heart patients at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital changed dramatically when the city was engulfed by the pandemic in April.

The military veteran was overwhelmed by a deluge of new patients, strangers about whom he knew nothing and who were not able to communicate.

At Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston, Hali Diecidue faced a different challenge.

(Diecidue does not identify with a specific gender and uses the pronouns “they/them”)

They volunteered to join a Covid-19 unit set up to look after the centre’s elderly chronic care patients. “I didn’t think (the unit) would want me,” they said. “You need the doctors, you need the ventilators… but the welcome that I got was amazing.”

As a senior staff chaplain, Diecidue had expertise in end-of-life care, but that didn’t prepare them for what happened when they put on a hazmat suit.

“You go from being a comforting presence to being one of the scary people,” they says. “I learned how to manoeuvre my eyebrows a lot and to think about smiling with my eyes.”

Walker also felt handicapped when a face mask covered his “most effective weapon.”

An even greater challenge of course was the loss of direct contact – with patients, but also with families. “Developing relationships over the phone with people we’d never met,” was very difficult, he says.

Mount Sinai Hospital began to assign chaplains and volunteers just to work the phones.

Diecidue already belonged to an organisation that was uniquely placed to deal with the emergency demand for improvising on ways to accompany people in their most difficult hours.

It’s called the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and was set up in 2018 to explore changes in American religious life, in particular the growing number of people who have no religious affiliation or connection, yet still seek spiritual care.

The founder, Wendy Cadge, says the group was able to respond rapidly to Covid demands, sharing ideas on “creative workarounds” such as tele-chaplaincy, because it had an established network of more than 3000 chaplains across the country and around the world.

The pandemic shone a new spotlight on spiritual care workers, she says, but “these headlines about chaplains running towards death, they weren’t actually running: they’ve been there all along. People…just suddenly saw that they really needed their help.”

Probably no more so than the need for someone to step into the breach and help say goodbye.

Walker worked with nursing staff who could enter patients’ rooms to send messages from family members. Sometimes he literally stood outside the doors and FaceTimed relatives himself, just letting them look at their loved ones.

Diecidue started by standing at the door, but didn’t stay there.

“You’ve got two masks on and you’re shouting through them. And they’re scared,” they says. “So I found myself inching closer and closer. And then I wasn’t supposed to touch the patients, but a hand on the shoulder, even through a blanket and two pairs of gloves, felt comforting.”

Diecidue also used an iPad at the bedside to help family members connect: “Offering people a sense of belonging…at the end of life…is more important than whatever fear I might have had.”

Walker drew on his own Christian faith and the faith traditions of the families with whom he was working to remind distraught relatives that even “in a room that’s lonely, we’re never alone”.

As the pandemic subsided in New York he was faced with another challenge, a wave of exhaustion and depression amongst healthcare workers.

His military training helped him identify the signs of “combat fatigue,” very much like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he says.

Walker is working together with a PTSD counsellor to respond to the need. Mount Sinai Hospital has even purchased foot massage machines to help workers “get off their feet”.

In a clear sign that staff care is becoming a major new focus of chaplaincy, the Innovation Lab announced last week that it had been awarded a $500,000 (£365,200) grant to expand spiritual care for frontline health workers, and to help chaplains deal with their own trauma.

Diecidue, who is trying to come to terms with 50 lives lost in two-and-a-half months, says they have been baking bread to cope with the stress, and taking comfort from a therapy dog, which they take to the Rehabilitation Center.

They have also been organising memorial services for the staff, including the food handlers and dieticians who’d come to know many of the patients well.

“The sheer loss has been devastating,” Diecidue says. “I think it’s going to take decades to heal from this in general, without end of life rights, without proper funerals, proper good-byes.

“We’re just going to have to learn how to navigate that in a new way.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53284610

Publications

Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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