Because caring for the spiritual needs of our patients is an essential part of total patient care, the hospital chaplain functions as a member of the health care team. The primary focus of the health care team is that it works toward optimal care of our patients and their families. It also provides mutual support among professionals relating to the care we give in the hospital, community resources, and a forum for dealing with ethical issues.
It is the role and task of the chaplain to recognize and explore the relationship between disease diagnosis; the experience of illness, including cultural and social factors; and the expression of spirituality. This recognition and interpretation helps avoid the breakdowns in communication that may arise in the highly specialized realm of medicine.
Such a multidisciplinary approach allows various kinds of healing to take place and enables spirituality and medicine to come together in a complementary fashion.
Our Pastoral Care Philosophy
The term “total patient care” means many things to many people. To some, it implies technical sophistication; to others it refers to the wealth of available material and physical resources, such as intensive care units. To still others, it means the abundance of personal skills that contribute to medical care. Each of these plays a part in total patient care, but there is another perspective as well. It is increasingly evident that the spiritual dimension-the realm of values, beliefs, hopes, fears, and meanings- is another vital component in the concept of total patient care.
At Atlantic General Hospital and Health System we believe total patient care is patient-focused care, and it involves more than excellence in medical or surgical achievement because people are more than a physiologic structure. Patients, families, and associates are all social, emotional and spiritual beings, as well as physical and chemical. Healing in total patient care will include all these dimensions at Atlantic General Hospital and Health System.
Pastoral Care Services at Atlantic General Hospital may facilitate and guide the efforts in the following ways:
- Provide compassionate listening and respect for individuals' values, and cultural and spiritual beliefs.
- Support community clergy as they visit patients and families in the hospital.
- Assist with completion of advance directives and living wills.
- Assist with the appointment of a Health Care Agent.
- Family and Patient support through the process of organ donation.
- Facilitate referral to the Advisory Committee for ethics review.
- Provide spiritual and emotional support through pastoral counseling.
- Provide bereavement support and references to community recourses for grief support.
- Arrange and officiate ecumenical services in the hospital chapel when appropriate.
- Care for the spiritual and emotional needs of the dying patient and their family.
- Promote the positive benefits of spiritual beliefs in healing.
To speak with a chaplain while you are in the hospital, ask your nurse or another member of the hospital staff to call a chaplain for you. Please call Pastoral Care Services at 410-641-9725 for further information.
Volunteer Chaplains Welcome
Community clergy are invited to help provide spiritual, religious and emotional support to patients, families and Atlantic General Hospital staff on an on-call basis. On-call hours are nights, 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., and/or one weekend a month. Please call Pastoral Care Services at 410-641-9725 for further information.