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Autumn 2017
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Listening with the Heart

Healthcare chaplains provide spiritual support for patients, families, and staff. They provide pastoral or religiously-oriented counsel, sacraments, sacred texts, objects, and rituals, which are important to religiously oriented people.

They also offer a ministry of presence, an empathetic ear, a compassionate touch, or a welcome prayer. Chaplains primarily just listen. In particular, they listen deeply to the needs of a person who is hurting.

Throughout Mid Coast–Parkview Health, chaplains and volunteers are trained to listen for various risk factors relating to spiritual distress, which is when a person’s spiritual values and beliefs begin to break down. The spirituality that once supported them in crisis suddenly turns against them.

One risk factor is often pain that does not resolve with normal medical interventions, sometimes referred to as "spiritual pain.” Research has demonstrated that spiritual pain does not respond to either pharmacological treatments or anti-depressants.

Professional chaplains are trained to identify spiritual distress and to provide appropriate interventions. Often, the chaplain’s presence alone is enough to bring relief.

Chaplains are an active and supportive part of the healthcare team, bringing a unique perspective to patients experiencing difficulty in the course of their care.

This holistic approach can have significant health benefits to the patient and family. The spiritual support can make suffering more bearable for patients, often resulting in higher degrees of resiliency and hope even in the context of serious decline.

By nurturing the whole individual (body, mind, and spirit), Mid Coast–Parkview Health provides true relief and healing to our patients.

The chaplains are an essential part of the healthcare team, providing an indispensable listening ear that has proven to be a worthwhile benefit to those who take advantage of their compassionate listening hearts.

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