Jenny Wells

UK HealthCare Chaplains See Hospitals As Their Place Of Ministry

Published: Mar 29, 2013

See video

Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing. Transcript available for download. 

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 29, 2013) - If you ask Joe Alverson, director of enterprise pastoral services, to describe the job of hospital chaplain, the answer comes metaphorically.

 

"I really consider the hospital to be our place of ministry," Alverson said. "The staff is our congregation. And the patients are our visitors. They come and check us out for a while."

 

The critical component of this ministry, Alverson said, is the medical center staff.

 

"The staff is here every day," Alverson continued. "If we don't care for the staff, who will? You have to care for the caregiver, and that's our job. It is not an easy task to come here every day and care for people like they do."

 

Two and a half years ago, when Alverson was named as director, he saw a need for additional chaplains to help better serve the hospital. At the time, the UK Chandler Hospital had two chaplains.

 

"I worked diligently talking to administration, sharing with them my vision for the department," he said. "We needed more people here to care for our patients, their families, and our employees."

 

Today, Alverson is seeing that vision come to fruition. UK Chandler Hospital now has eight chaplains who cover the hospitals 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

 

The addition of chaplains has helped not only fulfill the need to help more patients and health professionals and staff but to help change the perception of chaplains.

 

"We were firemen," Alverson said. "We would go to the place where we were called, put out the fire, make sure it's OK, and then we would leave. It isn't that way anymore. We are able to head off those fires a little more. We are able to spend more time with people and establish relationships with patients, and we are able to develop relationships with the staff so they are more comfortable calling us or giving us a heads up about situations in their unit.

 

"For the staff, it provides a great sense of comfort," Alverson added. "It provides them with the ability to know that they are able to take care of the patient medically, and that if there is something that needs taken care of spiritually, we are here to take care of that."

 

Robert Summers, one of two chaplains at UK Good Samaritan Hospital, agreed. "It allows us to be present with more people - to see more patients and to be with more staff," he said. "It's more work, but that's what (Alverson) told each of us when we came on - that he was hiring us to work hard and to make a real impact here. We are able to do so much more now that we have more staff."

 

Jef Ritzler, an emergency department nurse and shift supervisor at UK Chandler Hospital, echoed the impact of having a chaplain available at all times..

 

"Being in the emergency department, we never know when the next crisis will hit," said Ritzler. "It is invaluable to have the chaplains here 24/7 to provide support to our patients, families and staff. They are a comforting presence in the midst of what at times can be a chaotic environment."

 

Another benefit of having more chaplains and therefore more time with patients, families and staff, Alverson said, is that the perception most people have of chaplains is shifting.

 

"We know that we are not usually seen as the good news people," Alverson said. "Sometimes it scares people. But with additional staff, we are able to make rounds and be more visible. We can just stop in to see patients just to let them know we are here.

 

Alverson said the other perception they would like to make is that caring for patients isn't always about religion.

 

"Whether we talk about a spiritual matter or not, we are still providing pastoral care for that patient," Alverson said. If we talk about Mr. Brown's cows because Mr. Brown's cows are important to him, I'm providing pastoral care to him because he's concerned and I'm listening to that. If Mr. Brown wants to talk about eternity, we will talk about that too. Or his faith. That's still pastoral care. We are caring about him.

 

"Our job is to care for that patient in the moment," Alverson added. "That's our job. We are not here to impart our beliefs on the people we encounter. We aren't here to convert you. We aren't here to tell you what you believe is wrong. Our job is to care for you here right now. That is what we are here to do."

 

"We are here to serve," Summers added. "We are here to serve patients and staff. Being able to have more people here in the hospital, to have a bigger footprint has given us the ability to define our role more clearly."

 

The UK HealthCare chaplains are: Joe Alverson, Phylis Borchert, Jay Fulton, Jeremy Garbat-Welch, Chris Jennings, Mairi Renwick, Christine Ross and Stephen Summers.

 

chaplain_services.jpg
File Downloads
August
 
 
 
 
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Artful Sunday: Wrapped Art
Sun
4
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Mon
5
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
6
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers
Wed
7
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
8
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
9
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
10
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sun
11
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Mon
12
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
UK Working Moms Connection
Tue
13
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Wed
14
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
15
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
16
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
17
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sun
18
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Mon
19
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Tue
20
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
Wed
21
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Thu
22
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Midnight Dodgeball Tournament
CARES First Year Focus Parent Meetings
CARES First Year Focus Parent Meetings
Parent and Families Reception
Residence Hall Floor Meeting
Off-campus Freshmen Check-in
K Team Meeting: K Week Kick-off
Death By Chocolate
Fri
23
Employee Educational Assistance Award
A Parent's Guide to Life after August 23
Campus Safety Information Session
Donut Avoid The Study
Common Cents: Money Management for College Students Session 1
See Blue...See Community
Succeeding in A Large Lecture Classroom
Horses, Bluegrass, Basketball, and More: Welcome to Kentucky
Success at Any Age: College Tips for Adult Learners
Write Right: Tips for Writing Well in College
Common Cents: Money Management for College Students Session 2
How to Graduate in Four Years
Parental Involvement in Fraternity and Sorority Life
Parents Watch for Warning Signs: Suicide Prevention for College Students
Preparing to be a Pre-Professional
Presentation U!: Where YOU are the Ultimate Presentation
Religious Life at UK
Successful Off-Campus Living
The Transfer Student Cruise: Navigating your way through UK
UK Parking & Transportation 101
You Heard It Here First: Tips From A Faculty Member
New Student Induction Ceremony
Minority Student Welcome
Transfer Student Cookout
K Team Meeting: K Week Overview
Men's Soccer vs. Georgia State
Big Blue U
Campus Ruckus
Campus Ruckus
Sat
24
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: Jackass 3
LNFS Presents: Godzilla
Pedalpalooza
K Team Meeting: Lunch and Campus Tour
Center for Community Outreach: Do Good, Start Here.
UK Lex-Mart
Alternative Service Breaks: See the World, Change the World
From the Real World to the Amazing Race, Don't Wipeout: Your Advisor, Advising, and You
Blackboard Basics
Student Government Association Information Session
EMPOWER: Women’s Leadership Retreat Interest Session
Student Center Spectacular
Student Center Spectacular
Sun
25
Employee Educational Assistance Award
UK FUSION
UK Parking & Transportation 101
University of Kentucky Association for Transfer Students Interest Session
Candy, Condoms, Coffee
Cleaner, Healthier, Cheaper, Faster: Why Bicycling is the Best Way to Get Around Campus (and how to do it safely)
Working on Campus
K Team Meeting: Dinner with your K Team
Meijer Mania
Mon
26
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Last Day to Drop a Course with 100% Refund
Chem at UK Cafe-N-OJ with the Student American Chemical Society
Coffee (or Coke), Cookies, & Communication!: Come see blue. at Presentation U!
Don't Blow Yourself Up: Surviving Chemistry
Fraternity Recruitment Info Session
OMG! Did I Just E-Mail That to My Professor???
Surviving Your First Year and Beyond: Strategies To Do Well in Your Classes
Sustainable UK: Exploring Environmental Programs in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment (CAFE)
A User Guide for Your Mathematics Class
Discover the UK Art Museum
K Team Meeting: Common Reading Experience Discussion
Common Reading Introduction for International Students
Transfer Student Meet and Greet
We Are UK
Rec 'N Roll 2014
Big Blue Bingo Night
Mic Check
Tue
27
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Fraternity Recruitment Info Session
LNFS Presents: Jurassic Park
First Day of Classes
Campus Outreach
Opening Act: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Wed
28
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Her
LNFS Presents: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Student Involvement Fair
OrgSync Info session
LGBTQ* Welcome Back
Dive Into Diversity!
Residence Hall Floor Meetings
Thu
29
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Sea of Blue
One Last Beach Bash: RSA Block Party
LNFS Presents: Team America: World Police
Pills and Pizza
K Week Event: Pills and Pizza
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Wichita State
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Francis Marion
Fri
30
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: Neighbors
The Tailgate "Kick-Off"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Butler
Kentucky Football vs. UT-Martin
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Virginia Tech
Sat
31
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ohio
Men's Soccer vs. Belmont
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reset Page