Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:32

Eastern Maine Medical Center has decided to go from a paid to a volunteer chaplain services Featured

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BANGOR - A controversial decision at Eastern Maine Medical Center left people protesting outside the hospital's doors Tuesday afternoon.

Former EMMC employee, Dr. William Gallagher stated "I went to Harvard Medical School and on the walls of Harvard Medical School, there's a statement. 'The secret of the care of the patient is caring for the patient.' And that statement has been blown out of the water!"


Helen McKinnon, VP, support services, said "Eastern Maine Medical Center has decided to go from a paid to a volunteer chaplaincy services."


That decision has many people up in arms.


Chaplain Lee Witting stated "When a code green is called and the ambulance brings somebody in who's been in a terrible car accident and the family is there...that's where the chaplains come in. We deal with the patient and we can go into the trauma room and come out, deal with the families, tell them what's going on and how things are progressing. That's going to be lost. And it's going to be a real tragedy."


Those that protested on State Street Tuesday afternoon said healing the mind is as important as healing the body. Shannon Denbow stated "My husband and I had lost a baby early on, and it was just a really difficult situation to be in. And we relied heavily on the chaplain, and we've been friends ever since."


And that having someone consistently there for you in a time if need is more effective than calling in a volunteer upon request. Chaplain Witting said "It's not the same as going room to room, day after day, visiting as many people as we can and helping where we can."


But officials at the hospital said this will help people have a more individualized experience and this is the direction hospitals across the country are heading. McKinnon stated "Anyone that has been a patient here certainly has access to their own support and their own minister. We've welcomed them, made sure they had access to the patient 24 hours a day and that will continue."


McKinnon stated they already have 50 volunteers who were previously assisting the three chaplains on staff and assures the public they will continue to deliver on those services.


But Chaplain Witting said he hopes this will decision will be reversed and encourages those who have been helped by a chaplain to let their experiences be heard.