ST. JOSEPH’S PARISH LENTEN PROJECT 2021
HOLY FAMILY HOSPITAL OF BETHLEHEM
“That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees and marginalized may find welcome and comfort in our communities.” Pope Francis
Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem, located a mere 500 yards from the birthplace of Jesus, provides state-of-the-art maternal and neonatal services to poor and at-risk mothers, babies and families. The Hospital is one of the primary works of the Order of Malta, the oldest Christian charity in the world which has been in existence for almost 1,000 years.
The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the Hospital, its staff and patients, and the surrounding catchment areas of Bethlehem and Hebron. As of September 2020, over 25,000 area residents were infected with the virus; a number that probably is an undercount because people in the region continue working if they can to avoid losing wages.
The Hospital serves one of the most impoverished areas in the world, so the lockdowns and curfews imposed from March – June 2020 only added to the hardships experienced by the local population. Just 10% of the people were receiving salaries at that time as work in schools, businesses and the tourism/pilgrimage sector came to a halt.
Economic distress also affected the Hospital: although 1300 babies were delivered during these three months of lockdown, most families could not contribute at all toward their care or deliveries thus creating a large deficit in the Hospital budget. Expenses increased due to needed purchases of protective gear. To maintain operations, the Hospital Board voted to reduce employee salaries for three months by 18%.
The region saw a huge spike in Covid cases last summer and it was inevitable that some Hospital staff were exposed to the virus as they cared for symptomatic patients. Undaunted by numerous challenges, the staff delivered 460 babies in September 2020.
St. Joseph’s Parish was extraordinarily generous towards Holy Family Hospital during our 2017 Lenten Project. This year, in the face of untold suffering and hardship endured by the people of Bethlehem-Hebron due to Covid, we again have an opportunity to support an institution that provides excellent health care, employment and HOPE to them.
“Bethlehem needs Holy Family Hospital now more than ever before to keep the mothers and babies safe and Holy Family Hospital needs you more than ever before to keep hope alive and to allow our staff to continue delivering lifesaving care for all without regard to creed or need at our modern day manger.” (President’s Update, September 2020, Ambassador Michele Bowe).
Our Lenten Project 2021 begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, and ends on Wednesday, March 31. Please make checks payable to St. Joseph’s Church and indicate Holy Family Hospital on the memo line. For more information about the Hospital, please visit www.birthplaceofhope.org