Hospital chapels offer families sacred place for praying, reflection

Oct 5 2013 - 12:36am

Images

Stained glass windows line the back wall of the chapel at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
(BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Prayer books from various denominations fill the shelf in the chapel at Ogden Regional Medical Center. The chapel was run by Benedictine sisters for decades before they were called to the Midwest in June. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Ogden Regional Medical Center has a small chapel in a corner of the hospital. The chapel was run by Benedictine sisters for decades before they were called to the Midwest in June. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Stained glass windows line the back wall of the chapel at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
(BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Prayer books from various denominations fill the shelf in the chapel at Ogden Regional Medical Center. The chapel was run by Benedictine sisters for decades before they were called to the Midwest in June. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Ogden Regional Medical Center has a small chapel in a corner of the hospital. The chapel was run by Benedictine sisters for decades before they were called to the Midwest in June. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

Hospitals are busy places. There is a lot happening medically in efforts to heal patients and get them on the road to recovery.

* Doctors are making rounds.

* Nurses are assessing patients or administering intravenous medications to patients with I.V. pumps -- pumps that often end up beeping half the night.

* Certified nursing assistants are busy helping care for patients by bringing in fresh water, changing sheets and gowns and helping with bathing needs.

* Critical care is ongoing in intensive care units and emergency rooms around the clock.

* Phlebotomists pop into patients' rooms as early as 4 a.m. for blood draws, so doctors can have test results in time for morning rounds.

McKay-Dee Hospital, Ogden Regional Medical Center and Davis Hospital and Medical Center work to provide for the spiritual aspect of medicine as well, with in-hospital chapels and staff handling spiritual needs.

The chapels are usually a place for quiet reflection and are generally too small for services of any substantial size.

Sacrament meetings for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at McKay-Dee and Ogden Regional are held in the cafeteria back room and education area, respectively.

"We hope it (the chapel) is a place for hope and peace," said Marcy Thaeler, the pastoral manager for Ogden Regional Hospital. "People go there for various reasons. They may have a loved one who is dying. They may have just received bad medical news. They may even have happy reasons, such as for the birth of a baby."

Ogden Regional's chapel is near patient areas such as the neonatal care and intensive care units. McKay-Dee's chapel is on the second floor near the ICU waiting room. The Davis chapel is across from the outpatient surgery waiting room on the first floor.

"I think it (the location) works," said Mary McEntire, the chaplain for McKay-Dee's palliative care team. "Intensive care is one of the more stressful areas in the hospital for families -- (the chapel) lets people connect to their beliefs."

The Davis Hospital chapel is quite small, said Diane Townsend, the hospital's business development director. "It has room for five or so people. It's basically a place for people to find quiet time, but it was recently remodeled."

Hospital chapels are quite common. For example, the Mayo Clinic offers two chapels and four meditation areas. And Thaeler and McEntire know many prayers are offered in these quiet places.

"There are lot of petitions made and prayers offered," McEntire said. "We hope spiritually people can find what they need. Spirituality is more broad than individual religions, so we can communicate (with God or a higher being) the best way we can. We try to offer a variety of different scriptures in the chapel and a prayer request book."

"We have a place where people can come get closer to God," Thaeler said. "A place where you can find hope and thanksgiving."

It isn't usually possible to get most patients to the chapels.

"We try to take what the chapel represents to patients' rooms," McEntire said. "We try to let them know that the illness isn't the being they are or who they are. We try to help patients find reconciliation and hope to connect with something bigger."

Thaeler said the chapels are a part of the holistic part of healing, not only physical but spiritually and emotionally as well. She said:

"We make sure we take that right to the patient."

From Around the Web

  +