Frequently Asked Questions About Pastoral Care

Q: How do I get in touch with a chaplain?

A: The fastest way to get in touch with a chaplain is to ask your nurse to page us. You can also reach the Department of Pastoral Care by calling 410-328-6014 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

During other hours, follow the directions on the voice mail recording to leave a message. Do not leave messages for immediate, urgent and/or emergency needs -- ask your nurse to page us instead.

If you or your loved one is not a patient, but you need to reach a chaplain and you are calling from outside the Medical Center, call the main number 410-328-UMMS and ask the operator to page the chaplain. You may have to wait up to 10 minutes for the page to go through. 

When you or your patient first arrives in your room, you will be asked if you have any spiritual care needs, including if you would like to see a chaplain. A chaplain will respond to your request.

Q: What is a "chaplain"?

A: A "chaplain" is one of the most common terms used to describe members of the healthcare team whose primary area of expertise is spiritual care. At UMMC, chaplains are part of the Department of Pastoral Care Services. They are employed by the health care system. Staff and per diem chaplains at UMMC are professionals who have training, experience and certification in the area of spiritual care. They are always available to give spiritual support to patients, family members and staff of any or no specific religious tradition.

Q: Are chaplains the same thing as pastors or other clergy members?

A: Not exactly. While most clergy members have pastoral care experience in their communities of faith, all chaplains must be trained, experienced and able to work outside their faith community in the clinical setting. 

At UMMC, staff chaplains are board certified and/or board certified eligible. This means that they have completed graduate level professional training in seminary, including as a minimum of four units in clinical pastoral education (training in the clinical setting), and have had supervised experience in clinical chaplaincy. Many of our per diem chaplains are also board certified. All per diem chaplains have completed a minimum of one unit of clinical pastoral education and are in, at the minimum, their second year of full time accredited graduate theological degree programs.

Q: Can a chaplain help arrange for a patient's personal pet to visit them during their hospitalization?

A: Yes we can! Please call 410-328-6014 or ask your nurse to page the chaplain. If you are a staff member page 8-BEEP-HOLY for more information.

Q: Does UMMC offer religious services at the hospital?

A: Regular religious services are held in the Interfaith Chapel. These services are televised through the medical center's closed circuit TV system. 

In addition, special services are held throughout the year in the Interfaith Chapel and other locations throughout the hospital. Religion-specific services are offered along with interfaith celebrations and services as needed. 

 Please see the Pastoral Care Services Schedule for more information, including times and locations.

Q: What does a chaplain do?

A: Simply stated, chaplains offer spiritual care in the clinical setting. "Spiritual care" has to do with issues of meaning, hope, and transcendence that are often more pronounced during illness, injury, birth and death.

Spiritual care helps people address questions such as:

  • Why is this happening?
  • What does this mean?
  • How do I make sense of this?
  • Where will this take me?
  • What gives me the ability to cope?
  • What gives me comfort? What next?

For some, spiritual care also includes religious support. For others, it means providing a non-anxious, caring presence in the midst of an anxious time or experience.

Chaplains are involved in patient care in many ways. This can include:

  • Offering reflective listening and non-judgmental emotional/spiritual comfort
  • Attending patient care meetings, being involved in ethics consults, working with palliative care
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Providing bereavement support at end of life care
  • Helping with crisis support and treatment decisions
  • Communicating information and providing education
  • Being there to hear and celebrate good news

Chaplains also are the "go to" people for providing religious support and materials in the hospital. The types of religious support offered by our chaplains include:

  • Praying Providing sacred writings (e.g., Bibles, Qur'ans) and devotional material
  • Providing kosher refrigerators and Sabbath candles (electric)
  • Providing holy water from the Ganges River Providing blessed rosary beads
  • Helping to clarify patients' dietary and/or procedure needs and restrictions
  • Helping to make connection with a patient's personal clergy and/or community of faith, or providing specific religious clergy and/or ritual support during hospitalization (e.g., sacrament of the sick, communion, baptism).

Q: When should I call a chaplain?

A: Call a chaplain whenever you need a little extra support. We can: 

  • Lend a listening ear 
  • Pray
  • Help you get in touch with your own clergy or religious community;
  • Help you sort through decisions and/or concerns 
  • Bring communion or a copy of the Qur'an 
  • Make sure you have Kosher meals if you need them 
  • Bring you devotional materials from many faith traditions 
  • Stand by you in difficult moments or celebrate with you in joyous moments 

Chaplains at UMMC work 24/7 -- all shifts, all hours, every day of the year. Call a chaplain whenever you think spiritual care support is needed for you or your loved ones.

Q: Where do chaplains work?

A: Chaplains work in all areas of UMMC and Shock Trauma. While some chaplains have specific patient populations that they work with (e.g., pediatrics, behavioral health) and some are available for specific religious needs (e.g., rabbi, Roman Catholic priest), all chaplains work in all areas of UMMC at various times.

Q: Who can receive chaplains' services?

A: All patients, staff and/or family members who need support can receive chaplains' services. Chaplains do not limit their care based on religious preference. They have both the training and experience to offer support for a broad range of people, including those with specific religious preferences and those with no religious beliefs, traditions and/or preference. Chaplains are available to work with anyone concerned with issues of meaning, hope, loss, as well as other similar concerns.

This page was last updated: February 26, 2014

         
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