Spritual Care Volunteers Provide Comfort, Support for Portland Surgery Patients
A Prayerful Companion
The mission of Adventist Health calls each team member to care for patients and guests in unique and personal ways. This emphasis on faith leads team members to serve the spiritual needs of the community as well. A new collaboration between Adventist Health’s spiritual care team and dedicated volunteers is making prayer a present and personal part of surgeries at Adventist Medical Center.
Prayer with patients is not a new concept. Hospital chaplains regularly pray with patients during their rounds. But for surgery patients, particularly those having outpatient procedures, the window of opportunity is small, making it difficult for a chaplain to reach every patient before their procedure.
Called to Serve
“We wanted to expand our reach,” says Marshal George, chaplain. “Our team recognized an opportunity to involve and train volunteers to better serve our patients.”
From that discussion has grown a dedicated team of volunteers who visit our surgery patients and offer to pray with them before their procedure. In addition to prayer, these visits help ease the loneliness and uncertainty patients may be feeling as they wait. These volunteers know that experience well.
Personal Experience, Personal Ministry
“I have a lot of faith, but when I had my own surgery I still got nervous,” says Lillian Shannon, one of the spiritual care volunteers. “I love being there to provide a little peace and to help patients find their comfort zone.”
Every Tuesday, Shannon visits patients with David Tupper, another volunteer, who also brings his own surgery and faith experiences to the job.
“I love being involved with this program,” Tupper says. “We get to witness how the nurses and clinical staff care for patients and be a part of that process.”
Growing in Faith
Tupper and Shannon were prepared for this opportunity though training from the spiritual care team, and, like all volunteers in the program, they receive ongoing mentoring.
“We’re constantly coached on how to listen and support what the patient needs in that moment,” says Sandi Dykes, volunteer and program coordinator. “When we walk into a patient’s room, it’s not our agenda. It’s theirs.”
This presence, listening ear and voice of comfort are welcomed by Adventist Health patients. The spiritual care volunteers report they are rarely turned down when they ask to pray with a patient, and, in the rare instance where a patient says no, they usually want the volunteers to pray for their surgeon and care team.