A Day in the Life of a Hospital Chaplain
The day begins with ICU rounds. I love being part of various inter-disciplinary rounds. We all look at patients through our own specialty’s lens. While others listen for lab values and medication changes, I’m tuned in to family issues, pending decisions, distress – helpful insights for visits later.
I check the computer for consults from clinical team members for grief, despair, ad-vance directives, hopelessness, fear, or local clergy connections. Sometimes, requests arrive by phone or in the hallways. I‘m always grateful when team members reach out, because they are the front line and see issues we can address. This week, a nurse consulted us because a patient’s family member had just died elsewhere. Her grief naturally impacted her physical state. Tending to spiritual pain helps with overall health.
There are ongoing office tasks: planning presentations, training new volunteers, pre-paring for the Ethics Committee, budgeting. But then the phone rings, a patient has died, and the family needs us. Either a chaplain or a spiritual care volunteer is always on call for these kinds of emergencies, so someone will go, day or night. Today, I put the tasks aside and go.
Staff support is a huge part of my role. Even our awesome team members need sup-port, too, when they have a loss, a crisis, or a personal struggle. Though not a licensed counselor, a chaplain is a good listener with spiritual insights who keeps confidences. It’s hard to measure, but I do believe a few moments of compassion can refresh our team members.
Sometimes, I get to address new hires, teach self-care to new nurses, or speak in the community. Generally quiet by nature, I become a chatterbox when
asked about the work I love, in the hospital I love. My job is meaningful, because I connect with people at their most vulnerable. They, in turn, teach me about life.
Since Women Helping Women began in 1998, Pardee Foundation has honored women in our community, who have survived major health issues, with the distinction of “Women of Hope.”
These women have shared their stories of courage, determination and will, in their lives and in the lives of their families, as they have bravely faced cancer and other health issues. Each year the Foundation gathers the honorees for a reunion and celebration.
This year, four women will join the list below after being honored at the Women Helping Women luncheon on Oct. 18th.
I met Madison nearly 7 years ago when I first moved to Henderson County and she had moved here the year before. Our early conversations were about the difficulty of moving and finding new friends, figuring out where you fit in and what this new community was all about. She was in elementary school and I was a seasoned adult, and yet, we shared the same anxieties.
In the intervening years, Madison has embraced her new home and community. She became involved in school activities, developed a circle of friends and has excelled academically. Madison is currently a rising senior taking AP classes at Hendersonville High School and has set a goal of attending a 4 year university and is beginning to research her options. She is interesting in fashion an din pursuing a business degree. She is a member of the National Honor Society and is a North Carolina Scholar Athlete. Maddie played soccer for several years and was the captain of JV team in 2016, which shows her leadership skills and the respect she has from her peers and coaches.
Madison has grown up in a family that values service and commitment to community. She is a member of the Keywanettes and is a volunteer at Glenn C. Marlow Elementary School. In addition, she has participated in the United Way Day of Action, is a volunteer at Pardee Hospital for the third summer, helped with a Habitat for Humanity build and has volunteered on service projects through her school.
Madison has a passion for life and brings energy into any group with which she is associated. I have always appreciated her candid and honest remarks about her life and her hopes. She is articulate and can also spin a great story – in the long and wonderful tradition of southern women. This summer Madison is volunteering in the Foundation office and has interviewed our staff and is now sharing these blogs with the community. Thank you Madison – we appreciate you and your project to help introduce all of us to the wider community.
This summer we had the opportunity to host Madison Kirby as a volunteer intern for several weeks. During her time at the Pardee Foundation office Madison interviewed each of our staff members to learn about who they are outside of their position at the Foundation and also why they chose to pursue a career in philanthropy. Thanks for your hard work, Madison!
Jim Brewer started out working in the Marine Corps and then made his way to UNC University system where he was an archaeology professor. He then took on a campaign at one of the universities he was working at and came to love the fundraising world. He now works at the Pardee Hospital Foundation serving as the Major Gifts Officer. Major gifts are donations to the hospital that are over 5,000 dollars within a year, or 10,000 dollars within three years. When I interviewed Jim and asked him what he does for the foundation, he explained his role as being a “matchmaker.” Overall, he matches a supporter with one of the hospital’s needs. Jim began to tell me about one of the major contributions the foundation has helped make to the hospital, the portable Intra Aortic Balloon Pump. This pump was able to help save a life after a man had just had a heart attack and needed transportation to Mission Hospital. Jim also took 1,000 people on tours of the Cancer Center that was recently built. When it comes to the events the Foundation puts on, he sees these events not as fundraisers, but as “friend-raisers.” These events are a way to allow these donors to feel connected to the hospital and to see what they have contributed to. When I asked Jim what the world philanthropy means to him, he said that it’s what drives us to make a difference in the world; it is making the world a better community than it was before. His favorite thing about Hendersonville is the sense of place and belonging that you don’t see in a city like Charlotte or Asheville. Jim believes Pardee is able to stand out from other hospitals due to the fact that the faculty is a team, they are team members, not employees. It is hospital that the community deserves and needs.