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Chaplaincy Care and Education > Role of a Chaplain

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 address the spiritual and emotional needs of persons representing a variety of faith traditions.  Since 2000, The Joint Commission standards recommend that hospitals have board certified chaplains available to patients, family, and staff.  The standard for chaplains request that professional chaplains, rather than local clergy, provide chaplaincy service.  LGH Staff chaplains hold a Master’s Degree, four units of Clinical Pastoral Education, and are either Board certified or eligible for certification.

Chaplains are trained to provide spiritual care to persons of any religious tradition—or no particular tradition—because they address the broad range of emotional and spiritual needs of persons in their care.
 

Chaplains offer spiritual care

Spirituality is the personal search for purpose, meaning and the experience of connectedness to something greater than self.  Spirituality can include, although it is not limited to, religious expression, which is a narrower term referring to communally held beliefs and practices.  Spiritual care within the healthcare setting supports and assists patients in utilizing their spiritual resources in coping with a broad range of concerns brought on by illness or injury.  At Lancaster General, the hospital chaplain’s ongoing presence supports the healthcare team’s efforts to attend to the spiritual and emotional needs of patients and their families.

The chaplain’s role is multi-faceted: to provide comfort, to pose questions, assist families with challenges, and offer an anchor of spiritual strength in the midst of crisis.  As an integral member of the healthcare team, the chaplain offers insight, assurance, and compassion during the challenging moments in a patient’s life.

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 Chaplaincy Care and Education Department was established in 1964 and initially funded by the Lancaster County Council of Churches. Today the department consists of full-time chaplains, a Catholic priest, chaplain associates, residents, and interns.  The department’s main office is located on the first floor next to the chapel in the James Street Lobby.  Office hours are weekdays from 8:00 a.m.—4:30 p.m.  The telephone number for the department is 717-544-5979.  Chaplains are available 24 hours a day by pager and can be reached by calling the hospital operator.   

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.
 
 





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