Hospital provides places for bodies and souls to heal

Published 8:31 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

It can be argued that people rely on God the most when they are suffering personal or physical crises. Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital is equipped to handle such transcendent spiritual needs with their chaplain program.

Working in conjunction with the Demopolis Ministerial Association, the program assigns one minister from the association to be “on-call” for a week at a time.

If a patient or employee requests to see a chaplain, the minister on duty for that week comes to the hospital to meet with the person for prayer and counseling.

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“The chaplains are of all different faiths,” said Chrissy Brooker, BWWMH director of public relations. “If a patient is of a particular faith and requests a chaplain of that faith, we try to match them.”

The chapel room itself offers a peaceful escape of solitude apart from the rest of the hospital. Situated next to the central elevator and distinguished by a wooden cross on the door, employees, patients and patients’ families come to the chapel to meditate, pray and reflect.

A pulpit at the front of the room is available for use by chaplains who lead prayer services.

The chaplain program has been integral in helping employees cope with major public crises in addition to the spiritual needs of hospital patients and their families.

“On Sept. 11, our chaplain on call came out to the hospital and did a chapel service,” Brooker said. “It was mostly prayer and counseling. That was a tragic event that had an effect on everyone.”

Brooker said the hospital plans to continue with the program as it is currently operating.

“We can’t promote religion,” she said. “Our patients have rights and privileges, and we can’t have people going from room to room [to visit patients], but we want patients to know that this service is available to them.

A lot of patients like to talk to the chaplain before going into surgery, if they are dealing with a loss, or if they are just sick.”

At Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, the chaplain program complements healing of the body with healing of the soul.