Most American hospitals employ a Pastoral Care Director or a Chaplain, who oversees the spiritual wellness of patients. In part, this is an expected tradition, but today it is also viewed as necessary spiritual care.
Between 1980 and 2003, 54% and 64% of U.S. hospitals provided chaplaincy services. (National Institute of Health)
Americans want chaplain services. In fact, they expect them, especially in city hospitals, non-for profits, and church-run hospitals.
Religion and prayer play a significant part in everyday American life.
Over the last 25 years, the number of Americans who believe and stated that “prayer is an important part of my daily life,” was 76 percent. (2012 Pew Research)
In the United States, 55 percent of the population prays daily. (2013 Pew Research)
This group leans heavily on prayer during trying times.
A Fox News Poll in 2011 found that 77 percent of voters believe that prayer will help heal illnesses and injuries.
Hospital chaplains address the needs of patients from the outpatient setting to acute care, palliative care, hospice settings and long-term illness care, where spiritual needs change. Patient concerns vary with the variety of illnesses and his or her ability to cope.
Hospital chaplains provide support during a time when physical and mental changes are at work and the patient is in shock.
Peter Mariades, ThD, MDiv is the Director of Pastoral Care and Chaplain at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida. He has been on staff for two years. The former Executive Administrator of Christ for All Nations’ United States operations, he has also been Patient Manager/Chaplain to Dr. Chauncey Crandall (Cardiologist), and a pastor at Christ Fellowship in Palm Beach Gardens. Rev. Mariades is a graduate of Regent University and is proficient in Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek. Most importantly, he has a heart for patients.
Rev. Mariades states that it is important to meet patients early in the admission process, lowering their shock and improving the patient experience. The pastoral care that he provides and oversees helps patients improve their ability to process emotions, alleviating fear, anxiety and loneliness.
Emotional and spiritual support and prayer are offered to anyone coming into Jupiter Medical Center as a patient or family member. He and the Pastoral Care Volunteers practice active listening to determine their faith tradition and respond accordingly to their needs.
Rev. Mariades and his team of more than 25 volunteers are available to the patient from the beginning of admission until their discharge, or after transfer to the Hospice wing, where he also offers ongoing support for their emotional and spiritual needs. Periodically, he receives requests for support after hours, typically in the Emergency Room or Intensive Care Unit.
It is also not uncommon for Rev. Mariades to be asked for prayer by a hospital staff member who is struggling with personal issues.
Rev. Mariades’ goal is to remain highly visible; his office is actually right on a hospital floor. He is often found making rounds in the units with the clinical teams, responding to requests from the nursing staff, and visiting with patients and their families.
Rev. Mariades has developed a program with his team of trained volunteers to maximize coverage of the entire hospital, quantify the number of visits, and share the details of each visit with the next visiting volunteer.
The centerpiece of this reporting procedure is the Patient Visit Checklist. Now in paper form, he is working on automating the process with a data management module, suitable for an iPad which will replace the paper version and offer real-time recording. The current form includes: volunteer's name, date, patient name and room number, and time spent with the patient in five minute increments.
There are options to identify the patient's demeanor and attitude (positive, negative, in pain, compliment, complaint, etc).
Last, a choice from eight options of actions taken are provided: talk, prayer, contact with family, call nurse, etc…There are also some blank lines for volunteer comments.
Rev. Mariades states, “The Patient Visit Checklist’s purpose is that it has value not only as a reporting mechanism (for me and the next volunteer because a copy is left in a notebook log), but as a reminder to observe and perform all the criteria during each patient visit.”
Therefore, patients are offered multiple contacts throughout their admission to receive emotional and spiritual support, and compassionate responses to their needs as they journey through the medical treatment.
So effective has his management been that during January of 2014, he and his staff logged 850 patient visits, which is more than double that of January 2013.
Jupiter Medical Center is home to a new inter-faith chapel for meditation and prayer. Rev. Mariades is preparing to install an audio/video system for the recording and live-streaming of religious services representing diverse faith traditions and interviews from the hospital’s chapel into patients’ rooms. He is also planning for a video library which will allow later viewing of a variety of subjects designed to comfort patients of every background and medical experience. Patients who typically attend weekly services desire this opportunity and will benefit from continuing their personal faith disciplines.
Rev. Mariades hopes to continue to extend pastoral care support into other Jupiter Medical Care services located in outlying facilities.
In addition to seeing patients, Rev. Mariades sits on several committees, such as those overseeing palliative care and ethics.
To be a pastoral care director is not an easy task. One is faced with illness, hurt, depression and even death among others, but Rev. Mariades sees the position as his calling. He finds great meaning and fulfillment in his work and has helped transition Jupiter Medical Center to a hospital that is a model of Pastoral Care.
For further information, contact Peter Mariades at Peter.Mariades@jupitermed.com
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