T is for Trauma

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

There are not many places you’ll still see a pager in 2018, but the hospital where I work is one of them. I have the small black beeper clipped to my lapel or in my pocket (if I’m lucky enough to find an outfit with pockets that day) at all times when on duty. The tones of my hospital pager are as familiar to me as . . . well, as any sound you’ve heard almost daily for over ten years. I always set mine to “Pleasing Alert” and that particular series of beeps is the most pleasing of all the options, it’s true. There are some times, though, when the Pleasing Alert is not what I hear. If the beeps instead are jarring, tapping out the same rhythm that in Morse Code means “S-O-S,” then I know that this is a trauma call. Continue reading “T is for Trauma”

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Loosing Hope

This can be a tough time of year for hospital work. As a chaplain, I often see the most tragic situations, and they take on an even sadder air around the holidays. Nobody wants to remember Christmas as “the day Dad died” or “the anniversary of Gramma’s stroke.” But it happens. It’s easy to get pulled under by the seemingly hopeless situations. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw a dear friend and fellow chaplain post her status update on Facebook: “Christmas Eve in a Level One Trauma Center may cause me to loose all hope.” Continue reading “Loosing Hope”

E is for Emergency Room

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(This is the fifth in the series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

It is the beating heart of the hospital. It’s also the only place I’ve ever seen a human heart beating (or struggling to beat) inside someone’s chest, up close and personal. I never know quite what I’m walking into when I get a call to the ER. Chaplains are part of the trauma team, automatically paged in the event of a trauma call. (More on that when we get to the letter T.) But there are many other reasons we get requests to come to the emergency room. It’s one of the units where I spend the most time. My closest friends on staff at the hospital are those who work the ER. (Incidentally, it is more appropriately called the emergency department, since it comprises many rooms. But thanks to those pharmaceutical commercials, when I hear ED I can only think of erectile dysfunction, so it remains the ER for me.)

Here, it’s all about crisis. Almost nobody wakes up in the morning planning on being in the ER later that day. The things that bring people here are sudden and surprising. Continue reading “E is for Emergency Room”

About the title, part 1: Chaplain

Other than my first name, “Chaplain” is the one word I get called most often.  Come to think of it, I may even answer to “Chaplain” more often than to “Stacy.”  I began as a chaplain intern in 2006, and since then it has become not only my career and calling, but a huge part of my identity.  Being a chaplain has definitely changed me and what I believe in lots of ways.  I would even go so far as to say that becoming a chaplain has changed the God I believe in, but I’m okay with that.  I was believing in the wrong one before, a god too small, too easy.  And even now, I know my best guess at Who/What I’m worshiping can’t possibly be right.  But since I’m going to err anyway, I’d rather err on the side of grace and love.  That’s what I try to do in the hospital, where God somehow trusts me to walk alongside those who are suffering, bringing their awareness not only to my presence but to the presence of God who is Love, and hopefully showing them in some real way that they are not alone. Continue reading “About the title, part 1: Chaplain”