Hospital fires Catholic security guard for helping priest visit dying woman during lockdown
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TAMUNING, Guam, July 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A security guard in a Guam hospital has been fired with “no warning” over helping a priest give last rites to a dying patient amid the coronavirus lockdown. Guam, a small island in the Pacific ocean, is a territory of the United States.
Robert Glemann, a married father of three young daughters, told LifeSiteNews that one woman “had a massive brain hemorrhage and … was going to die in the next few hours,” according to nurses.
“The zeal for the salvation of souls kicked in and I contacted my priest friend to be on standby just in case their family wanted her to see a priest,” said Glemann. “I prayed a Rosary to ask for the Blessed Mother’s help. The daughter finally came in and she wanted a priest for last rites.”
Glemann spoke to the local pastor, whom he considered a personal friend. “He then told me that he was specifically told that he wasn’t allowed to come in the Emergency Room.”
“I was quite fired up by then, because I was seriously concerned for the salvation of this particular woman (some internal motivation I can’t explain). I gave Father a stern reminder of his duties as a priest regardless of COVID or any Hospital Policies. The priest felt disrespected and thought I was giving him orders so the conversation ended.”
However, Glemann then asked “one of the saintly nurses if she could convince this priest to come.” In fact, both nurses and doctors had given their approval of having a priest administer last rites to the dying person.
In the end, another priest agreed to come.
“I made sure that the Security Officer at “stage one” (a place where they stop people before they enter the ER) was going to let the priest in,” said Glemann. “I escorted the priest into the facility and he administered the last rites. Thanks be to God and Our Lady’s intercession!”
Glemann allowed the priest into the facility on June 12. On June 18, less than a week later, he was fired from his job without prior warning. “I was told that I had made a ‘possible’ HIPAA violation.”
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act aimed at protecting patients’ personal data. Glemann’s boss explained that it was not clear he had broken that law, given that he “didn’t do something crazy like … take the patient’s medical records and post them online.”
“My boss went on to tell me how I was a great employee and I was doing a fantastic job,” Glemann pointed out. “Just that I ‘angered the Big Lady’ (the head administrator who previously denied priest entrance in a similar situation).”
The local archdiocese of Agaña had contacted the hospital on June 15, lamenting the difficulties to get priests inside to minister to the sick and dying, and asking to clarify the hospital’s policies.
Episcopal Vicar Fr. Ronald S. Richards pointed out that hospital ministry protocols were likely to stay for an indefinite time. “We have received calls most often from Security who insists quite forcefully that a priest come to the hospital to administer last rites. On several occasions these are patients in the Emergency Room.”
During a meeting with the hospital, the archdiocese had agreed on May 27 that priests should not enter the emergency room. “However, we have received numerous calls from Security as well as the ER Charge Nurse, the Nursing Supervisor as well as family members for a priest,” wrote Fr. Richards.
“With each of these occasions, we have called to confirmed [sic] if a priest will be allowed to enter the ER based on your policy,” he added. “Each time we were told that because it was only for ‘a short period of time it would be okay for a priest to come in.’ So, we have sent in a priest each time.”
Richards explained that the archdiocese always referred to the hospital policy when receiving calls, “but it is the hospital staff that is modifying the policy, therefore we are at a loss as to how to respond. We are merely trying to work harmoniously with your administration in what is best for all concern [sic].”
Robert Glemann, the fired security guard, has started a Fundly account to raise money for his family while he is looking for a job, and possibly relocating to a state more supportive of religious liberty.