Hospital seeks volunteers for new program

The Rev. Jimmy Flowers, pastor of Serenity Baptist Church, participates in the Spiritual Care Program at Sampson Regional Medical Center. Here, he is talking with Aleen Southerland.

Sampson Regional Medical Center is in the process of building a strong Spiritual Care team as part of the hospital’s volunteer services.

According to Judy Naylor, director of volunteer services, the hospital is currently seeking volunteers to serve on the Spiritual Care Program in an effort to fulfill the needs of all their patients.

“When someone comes in and requests a chaplain, we are trying to make a stronger Spiritual Care Program in the hospital to better serve their needs,” Naylor said.

While the hospital is seeking ordained chaplains of all denominations, being ordained isn’t a requirement, and being CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) certified is a plus.

“We want people who desire to make a difference in the lives of our patients,” Naylor stressed. “They don’t have to be ordained.”

The hospital hosted a Meet and Greet event last week inviting 110 churches to come out and learn about the chaplaincy program that will include 24-hour on-call coverage for the patients and visitors who request spiritual care during their time at Sampson Regional.

“Spiritual care is as important as any medicine we can give the patients,” Naylor attested. “If they need spiritual care, we want to give it.”

The Spiritual Care Program, according to Naylor, has developed three distinct branches of care. Volunteers can serve as a chaplain who offers 24 hours of on-call care one day a month. Community clergy, which includes pastors, priests or other ministerial staff, can make regular visits in the hospital, but their visits are restricted to their faith and those who are part of their congregation. Spiritual care companions (PALS), are those who are not ordained, but visit with patients to offer a smile or word of encouragement. PALS must follow the same SRMC training orientation and are held to the same standards of all other branches.

“We do not allow proselytizing and all spiritual care volunteers must comply with our corporate compliance guidelines for the protection of patients and their personal health information,” Naylor said.

At the present time, SRMC has six volunteers available who spend time with the patients and their families. Naylor said she and the hospital staff would like to have at least 30 volunteers available, so one person would only be on call one day a month.

According to Naylor, before the hospital implemented the new program, they had a few chaplains who would come in for emergency call as needed, but no set dates that a chaplain would be designated to be on call.

“We desire a greater spiritual care presence at our hospital and the on-call chaplain would allow us to have that,” Naylor shared. “If we could at least schedule one chaplain every other day of the month is would be a wonderful addition to the care we currently provide.”

During their on-call time, Naylor explained that the volunteers are asked to make walk-throughs on their assigned days. The on-call day starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 9 a.m. the following day. They should be available on those days to come to the hospital when requested.

“We realize that these volunteer chaplains have their own churches and a walk-through may not always be possible,” Naylor said. “We ask that when a chaplain is on call that they keep their cell phones charged and with them in case of an emergency and a chaplain is requested.”

“Chaplains should be available during emergency situations to provide comfort and spiritual care to those who want it.”

For the Rev. Marvin Clowney, being a part of the program is very beneficial.

“On-call Spiritual Care Chaplains assist the medical team in providing holistic care to the patient,” Clowney said. “They are a vital part of the patients well-being. Chaplains are the connection between patients and the medical staff in bringing wholeness into the patient’s life.”

For anyone interested in becoming a part of the Spiritual Care Program, contact Naylor at 910-592-8511, ext. 8563. There is a process to complete before being allowed to volunteer.