Lancaster General Health’s chaplains support patients and their families through some of the most difficult times in their lives.
Chaplains also help strengthen the emotional and spiritual health of Medical & Dental Staff members.
Carolanne Hauck, Director of Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services, said LG Health’s 29-person chaplaincy team supports physicians by leading debriefings after traumatic or difficult events, attending family meetings and even teaching stress-reduction techniques.
“We support physicians as they take care of our patients and families,” Hauck said. “We want to be there at your side to help you through the spiritual and emotional challenges of practicing medicine.”
Chaplains often serve as an extra set of eyes and ears when the medical team meets with a patient’s family. Hauck, a board-certified chaplain whose son is a hospitalist in New York City, said that what a physician says can be quite different from what the family actually hears.
If a chaplain sees that a patient or family doesn’t understand something, he or she may ask for clarity on their behalf. Chaplains sometimes ask the questions families are afraid to ask, she said.
Delivering bad news is an unfortunate part of practicing medicine, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. Hauck encourages physicians to enlist a chaplain for support.
“Give the news in a compassionate way, by making eye contact and listening,” she said. “Then, when you leave the room, our chaplain will be there to help the family process their emotions.”
LG Health chaplains also serve as liaisons and sources of support for families and the medical team during codes and traumas. After a difficult case or traumatic event, chaplains lead debriefings and check in to assess staff members’ emotional and spiritual health.
“Part of our role is to offer support to staff after they’ve seen something difficult,” Hauck said. “We will check in and say, ‘That was awful for you. How are you doing?’ ”
An LG Health chaplain currently leads a mindfulness-based stress reduction class for staff. The next session begins in January.