Pastoral Care

When Is Pastoral Care and Counseling Indicated?
Coping with medical issues is stressful whether it is injury, receiving a diagnosis, chronic disease or terminal illness. Helping patients and caregivers deal with the stress that is part of medical treatment. This often involves counseling patients regarding medical options or using psychological approaches to address anxiety and stress. Yet, for many people, this does not completely address their needs. Enveloped within medical issues are spiritual issues for many people.

For some people spiritual issues are overt and easily identified. This may include questions about what is the will of God, seeking healing through prayer or religious rituals, and using spiritual resources such as prayer and scripture to cope.

For other people the experience of illness is also a spiritual issue though not explicit. It is more subtle. It may emerge through discussions about the meaning of illness in the person’s life. Some indicators that spirituality is involved in health care are:
  1. The need for forgiveness – This may include the need to forgive others and/or the need to forgive oneself.
  2. Unresolved conflicts with loved ones – Illness and disease are stressful and can create or escalate exiting tensions in relationships.
  3. Questions about the meaning of life: “Why me?” “What did I do?” “What am I doing to my family?” “Is this a punishment for a past wrong? “Is there life after death?” “Why is there suffering in my life?”

The Hospital Chaplain

The Hospital Chaplain is a referral resource to help patients and family members as they address life changing experiences and the subsequent questions that emerge about the meaning of life. For some patients and family members their spirituality is defined through a religious affiliation and for other persons spirituality is more latent.

The Hospital Chaplain is a resource person who can help those with an identified religious affiliation to cope more effectively by using their spiritual resources such as prayer, scriptures and pastoral counseling.

The Hospital Chaplain is also a resource to persons that are not affiliated with a religious group. The Hospital Chaplain is prepared to help them discuss important issues and questions as well as define their own values and life meaning. The Hospital Chaplain seeks to help those they serve to access the higher human values – intelligence, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, peace, community, consolation – and apply them to present day events, crises, and challenges.

Upon request, and with consent of the patient and/or caregiver, the Hospital Chaplain can contact a minister, rabbi, imam or other spiritual support person.

How Can I Contact a Hospital Chaplain?
Pastoral Care is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to provide spiritual and emotional support. To make a referral to the Hospital Chaplain:

  • Call 240-566-3300 and ask the operator to page the Hospital Chaplain
  • Dial “0” and ask the operator to page the Hospital Chaplain
  • Ask the nurse to contact the on-call Chaplain.
Area Religious Leaders and Spiritual Care
  • Area Religious Leaders are encouraged to provide spiritual care to those to whom they have a direct Pastoral Relationship or Responsibility;
  • We encourage ALL Area Religious Leaders to have a badge provided through the Pastoral Care Department at the badging office. Please call 240-566-4635 for more information;
  • Visiting by Area Religious Leaders to the general inpatient population for spiritual care is prohibited.
Additional Services
  • Assistance in notifying patient/family members’ personal Clergy, Priest, Rabbi, Church, or Worship Center;
  • 24 hour access to the Hope Interfaith Chapel;
  • Sacred Texts and spiritual support materials.
  • Assistance in filling out Advance Directives
Learn More about the Clinical pastoral Education Program