Pastoral Care Week, slated to kick off nationally on Oct. 23, celebrates those like the chaplains at Lancaster General Health, who provide spiritual support to others.
Pastoral Care Week is supported by the COMISS Network: The Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings (formerly known as the Coalition on Ministry in Specialized Settings). This year’s theme, “Spiritual Resilience,” acknowledges the role of chaplains and pastoral counselors to support the spiritual resilience or growth in those they serve. At LG Health, chaplains are an integral part of patient care teams and walk alongside a family facing a healthcare crisis. Depending on the needs of the patient and family, this could be for a matter of hours, weeks or months.
Chaplaincy Director Carolanne Hauck meets with Sage Olnick, who now is a LG Health chaplain associate after formerly serving as a nurse.
Typically, chaplains are assigned to regular areas of LG Health to better understand what each area does, as well as to build rapport and relationships with staff. Equally importantly, LG Health chaplains provide support to medical staff and connections to the local pastoral community.
When called to the bedside of a patient or to meet with loved ones, Carolanne Hauck, Director of Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services, explains “We take our cues from those in need. Often a patient or family member needs someone to hear their fears or to help them understand exactly what is happening. If we see that they don’t understand something, we may ask for clarity on their behalf.”
In addition to the director, LG Heath’s Chaplaincy program has eight chaplain associates, five chaplain residents, four chaplain interns, one Fellow, one Catholic priest chaplain, seven full and part-time staff chaplains and one supervisor. The department operates on a referral basis and receives requests from nursing, physicians, social workers, patient representatives, clergy, patients and family members. In addition, chaplains are included in a number of hospital emergency protocols.
“Those called to chaplaincy work tend to have a natural resiliency and ability to hold another’s pain,” concludes Hauck. “But we, as chaplains, do care for one another as well. We laugh, we pray, we socialize together. We support one another so that we, in turn, can support those in need.”