Reprinted in part from the newspaper El Pregonero
At 79 years of age, Sister Caridad Tamayo is following with heart on the mission of her life: to serve the sick and vulnerable of the community. Joyful and helpful, she arrives daily at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring to offer her services as a volunteer interpreter for the Hispanic population.
“I am very pleased to carry out my volunteer service in this hospital, which offers something wonderful: No patient is ever sent away. Holy Cross Hospital is an open door to the needy, and I find that encouraging.”
Her primary role is to provide interpretation on behalf of patients and their healthcare providers. Additionally, Sister Caridad collaborates with Holy Cross Hospital’s Care Management team and others to explain and help patients to complete forms. At times, this also involves contacting family members of patients who reside outside of the United States. Sister Caridad also lends interpretation support for the hospital’s Palliative Care services.
Working alongside the medical team, she participates in the difficult task of explaining to patients who are approaching the end of life, and their family members, “that there is nothing more to be done.” Sister Caridad shares: “These are always very difficult moments; a moment when Jesus places one in the shoes of the other.”
When Sister Caridad meets patients who have made their peace with God, she gently reminds them that “He is the divine physician and His will shall be done.”
In other instances, Sister Caridad meets with terminally-ill patients and their family members who experience great difficulty in accepting an unfavorable diagnosis.
Imparting God’s spirit to the sick
Sister Caridad makes daily rounds to the patient care units, and always takes advantage of the opportunity to impart God’s spirit to the sick. When meeting a new patient, she introduces herself by saying, “I am taking the time to visit with you. How are you feeling? Are your needs being met?” She views these friendly chats as opportunities to get to know the patients and to bring God’s spirit to those who might be ill and alone.
This daily activity helps Sister Caridad, a native of Bolivia, to remain in good spirits, lucid, and in good physical form. She has been engaged in this work for the past eight years. Her experience also spans an additional 20 years of working with other organizations that serve the Hispanic community.
Sister Caridad was invited to join in Holy Cross Hospital’s work by one of the founding sisters of the hospital. Sister Caridad recalls: “I felt a calling and saw the opportunity to continue the mission of my congregation, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, which is to serve others, encourage a coming together of people, and to seek justice for women, children, and families.”