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Hospital Heroes

by Michael Ford last modified 04 Dec, 2020 11:18 PM

It is difficult for a hero to ask for help - that was one of the strong messages delivered by Chaplains that cover the hospitals in Dorset.

They were speaking at the final virtual ‘Breakfast at Home’ of 2020, hosted by Bishop Karen, which had as its topic ‘Challenges of Hospital Chaplaincy Today’.

The Revd Ron Martin, Lead Chaplain at Dorset County Hospital, spoke about the work of a hospital chaplain, saying:

“The most important part is that ability to listen and pay attention to go quietly and gently around. Not offer premature advice or sympathy. This is the largest part of our role as chaplains, about 80% of the time that’s what I do.”

Speaking to church and community leaders, decision makers and representatives from businesses within Dorset who were brought together by Bishop Karen for this Dorset initiative, Ron said that listening to patients at a point of crisis is a major part of his role.

But he added that the Trust also employs 3,000 staff “and we are there for them too”.

“So we do build relationships as I spend half of my working day with staff individually or in groups.

“The psychological impact of this pandemic will be here for a long time and you cannot unplay the impact on staff who are holding it together.”

The Revd Declan McConville, Head of Chaplaincy at the new University Hospitals Dorset NHS Trust and based at Poole Hospital said:

“We need hope at this time, we do live in the best of times and worse of times.”

Declan explained that he worked in a team of 11 mostly part-time Chaplains who worked across 5 sites.

And while normally he would also have a strong team of volunteers helping with this work, this was not possible under the present restrictions.

He added that Bank Chaplains, including new recruit the Revd James Taylor, were therefore a “Godsend” at this time.

“I am privileged to lead a team who are passionate about Healthcare chaplaincy,” he added.

Also at Bishop Karen’s Breakfast, which took place via Zoom, were Debbie Fleming, the Chief Executive and David Moss the Chair of University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust.

Both praised the work of the chaplains.

Debbie told those gathered that staff are “so tired and worn and very anxious about what will happen after Christmas.

“Chaplaincy services a critical part of this support, always humbled by our chaplains they provide a service that no one else could meet, I am so proud and grateful.”

Declan reflected that he had been struck by the words of the Taize chant Ubi Caritas – “where there is loving kindness there is God” - words that he had heard on the radio.

He said:

“215 people have died locally through the pandemic and we want to honour them and the wonderful staff on our Covid war who selflessly met the virus. Some had been unwell themselves but returned bravely.

“There is a lot of that kindness on our wards.

“Advent is a time of expectation and waiting. Let’s hope and pray we move out of this darkness soon into a new brighter New Year.

“Do keep our health care staff in your thoughts and prayers those on the front line and those in senior management who have to make difficult decisions.”

The Revd Ron Martin will be contributing to our Advent Calendar this year, you can sign up to receive it here.

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