Published on August 30th, 2012 | by Dr. Richard Martorano0
Bert Fish Medical Center Chaplaincy Program
Everyone has had an experience with modern medicine and/or health care – some good, some bad. Healthcare in this country is a social and a financial issue and today, because of media and the news circus, a political issue.
I am rather close to the industry since my wife, Ann, is the Administrator of Halifax Hospital Port Orange, the Human Resources Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer of Halifax Health. She gets it from all angles.
Most of the time what you read in newspapers about our local hospitals is negative in nature. Unfortunately “bad things” sell newspapers. Today, however, I am going to tell you about good things happening at our own Bert Fish Medical Center.
Bert Fish has had a volunteer Chaplaincy program for several years without much success. Initially when the chaplaincy program started, it was to be supported by local pastors that would rotate on call. That didn’t work out because it was not practical for pastors to leave their individual church responsibilities to console patients at the hospital.
With the addition of a new part time staff member, the Reverend Christopher Bailey (pictured below), there is hope that a resurrection will take place. We will talk more about Chris in a moment.
Let’s talk about the Chaplaincy program.
In the words of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, “Each person has the right to have his or her cultural, psychosocial, spiritual and personal values, beliefs and preferences respected.”
The vision statement of the program reads: “The Chaplin Service provides spiritual support and care to all patients and families and staff of the hospital. We serve people of all faiths. We provide sensitive, meaningful and caring support in a professional and confident manner.”
The following are some of its primary functions and goals:
- Support patients and their loved ones to utilize meaningful spiritual resources.
- Provide compassionate care for sick and injured persons and their families.
- Provide support for self-examination and change related to values, beliefs and relationships caused by health care crises (I interpret this to mean that often we get angry at God when something bad happens to us).
- Referrals for patient care situations such as: Visiting patients just before surgery – Visiting patients in the hospital.
After talking with Chris about this program, I believe it gives those in need someone to listen to, rather than it being a “God Thing.” As Chris said, “If they want us to pray with and for them, we are available. If they just want to hold someone’s hand, we can do that, too.”
The interesting thing about this program is, this kind of help is as important to the staff at the hospital as it is to the patients.
Those working in healthcare are under a great deal of stress and pressure.
Sometimes when an outcome for a patient (especially children) is not what was expected, healthcare staff find themselves in need of someone to talk with and constantly struggle with not letting the pressures and outcomes of their job interfere with their home life. The Chaplaincy program is there for them as well.
Initially when the chaplaincy program started a few years ago, it was to be supported by local pastors. Bert Fish at that time did not have a chaplain on staff.
With the addition of Chris, the purpose of the program has changed to a volunteer basis, more like Stephen Ministry programs in existence at local churches.The volunteers will be trained by Chris to follow a very specific set of parameters and guidelines to counseling patients.
Chris is new to the area from St. Petersburg, Florida and is beginning his work as chaplain for the hospital. Chaplain Bailey comes to New Smyrna Beach from St. Anthony’s Catholic hospital in St. Petersburg and previously at Baptist and Palmetto Health Richland hospitals in Columbia, South Carolina. Chris is very well credentialed. He completed his year-long residency in clinical pastoral education at Palmetto, has a bachelors of music education from Illinois State University, a bachelor of theology in biblical studies from Christian International College of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida and a Masters of Divinity in pastoral from Columbia International University in South Carolina. He is an ordained Southern Baptist, having led worship for nine years at Lakeview Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee. He will be finishing his internship at Bert Fish to complete his residency for certification as a hospital chaplain, which is quite notable.
If you or anyone that you might know is interested in volunteering as a member of Chris’s chaplaincy program at Bert Fish, please call him. His telephone number at Bert Fish is 386-424-6167. His cell telephone number is 615-525-8900. He is excited about the challenge that is presented to him and I have all the faith in the world that he’s going to do just fine. He is a very nice young man and deserves the success in this community and with your help that will happen.