LEXINGTON Some volunteers at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East are taking part in a new pilot program at the two facilities that allows them to provide spiritual support to patients and their loved ones in a healthcare setting.
“It’s giving us this great opportunity to better serve our patients and families and staff,” said Kathy Mattone, market director for Spiritual Care. “The Spiritual Care Partners program is a great opportunity to extend the ministry of the hospital.”
The new Spiritual Care Partners program was first developed at a Bon Secours hospital in Richmond, Virginia. The program is an intensive training in spiritual care that includes more than 40 hours over a 10-week timeframe. Six volunteers at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East recently completed the training, including Fred Reinert.
“We all have assignments and visit different patients,” Reinert says. “We check in each morning with the chaplain to get our marching orders about which floors to go to and which patients to see.”
In 2017, Reinert and Mattone attended an informational session about the program in Virginia and decided it would be an asset to have at the two Lexington facilities.
While Reinert previously volunteered with the chaplain and had experience assisting with whatever was needed in that department, he says this new program gives volunteers a better sense of what the role entails, additional experience, more tools to complete daily tasks, and a feeling that they are truly helping patients and their families. Volunteers cover a range of topics including but not limited to basic listening skills, ministry to families, pastoral conversation, theological reflection, and world religions.
“You have to go into each room differently and assess the situation – some are recovering from surgery and don’t want to talk while others are open and start the conversation. Sometimes it does get into in-depth discussions about spirituality. Every day is different, and that’s why I enjoy this,” said Reinert. “You also get a sense that you are helping the staff chaplain and freeing them up to respond to more urgent needs.”
The two Lexington facilities are the first hospitals outside of Bon Secours that are involved in this pilot program, which Reinert says may be extended to more hospitals in 2019.
Mattone says the program is a way to build community relationships, and that the goal is to have an impact on every patient at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East. Some seminary students from Asbury University have already expressed an interest in volunteering.
“We know that patients who have attention to their spiritual side have a better outcome, better experience,” said Mattone. “We want people to have the very best body, mind, and spirit care when they’re with us.”
“It is truly an honor to be involved with this program,” said Reinert.
Mary Branham is director of communications, CHI Saint Joseph Health