Chaplain Hero: Rev. René Brandt

Chaplain Hero: Rev. René Brandt

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

To be in the presence of Rev. René Brandt is to find calm in a storm. A chaplain at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, she counsels patients and teaches student chaplains to provide care for those coping with a life-altering diagnosis or traumatic injury. She claims she’s an introvert, but she has an uncanny ability to provide comfort and strength to others in the midst of crisis.

During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Brandt was called to care for the family of a man dying from Covid-19 in an intensive care unit. The family was distraught, their tears soaking through their surgical masks as they paced outside of their loved one’s room during a Code Blue, able to be at the hospital but unable to enter the room. 

Rene Brandt quote Brandt listened, attending to the family’s pain. Eventually, she sensed the desire for some prayer and offered it. The patient’s wife accepted.

Brandt took a posture of prayer just outside the patient’s room, and the nurses inside the room noticed. “They circled up around the patient, held hands, and prayed for him,” Brandt says. The powerful moment provided the family and staff a sense of peace in the midst of a loss, and it happened thanks to Brandt’s attentiveness to spiritual needs.

As the pandemic evolves, Brandt continues to meet with patients and families during in-person visits and video chats. She sees her work as faithfully providing patients, families, hospital staff, and her own students “steady affirmation that it’s going to be okay.”

Originally published in the Fall 2020/Winter 2021 print issue. Photo by Jim Vondruska