The role of the Chaplain
A chaplain is usually a person who is an ordained minister who has been commissioned by their religious faith group to minister in an institution, organization, or governmental agency such as such as hospitals, prisons, businesses, schools, diplomatic facilities and all branches of military service. Chaplains have additional training for the specialized setting in which they work and are certified by an agency or organization that sets standards for their professional competence.
Chaplains offer spiritual care
Everyone's life is a story, unique and precious. One of the greatest gifts one person can give another is being a listening presence. And when we hit a crisis in our lives, such as a hospitalization or serious illness, having a listening presence to hear our stories is more crucial than ever. An attentive listening presence can help bring about renewed hope and healing. This is the core work of the hospital chaplain.
The role of Chaplains at Lancaster General Health
The Pastoral Services Department was established in 1964 and initially funded by the Lancaster County Council of Churches. Today the department consists of five full-time staff chaplains, a Catholic priest, approximately 12 Chaplain Associates, and four residents.
Chaplains provide one-to-one, short-term support to patients, their families and hospital staff. 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.
Chaplains also provide support, counseling, and referral for hospital staff and their families and limited outpatient counseling and support to former patients and their families.
Staff chaplains provide lectures and workshops for various LG Health entities, community organizations and agencies. They also serve as a liaison between the hospital and Lancaster area religious communities by:
- Providing information on patients admitted to the hospital from area congregations.
- Orienting new clergy to Lancaster General Health.
- Developing educational events, workshops and conferences for clergy.
- Providing support and expertise to clergy dealing with difficult pastoral care issues and situations.
- Visitation of congregational members when clergy are out of town or unavailable.
- Daily visitation and Eucharist for Roman Catholic patients.