Lynn Hospital Chaplain offers help in hard times
Chaplain Rev Mark Jones provided a vivid description of a day in his working life at the busy Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, where challenging budget cuts are causing staff additional pressures.
On Wednesday 2nd May, Rev Mark Jones gave a talk to Churches Together in King’s Lynn about his vital work as a Chaplain at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn.
In his role he provides comfort and a listening ear for patients and staff facing difficult situations.
Mark began by reading John chapter 13 about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and then showed the gathering three items he was carrying in his pocket - a pager so that he can be contacted, a holding cross representing Jesus and a paper towel signifying service.
“So what do we do as chaplains?” Mark asked.
The first line of his job description, he notes, is to maintain his own spirituality and to pray for the hospital. Each morning at 8.30am the team of four chaplains meet and pray through prayer cards which are left by people in the hospital’s ‘Sacred Space’. The chaplains also pray for the hospital departments in rotation.
Following their prayer time, the Chaplaincy team make a plan for the day. By 9.45am they head for the wards to see the patients who have requested a visit. There may be up to 50 patients on their list. However visiting can be a hit and miss process as patients are often otherwise occupied.
Up to 26 people attend Sunday services and these people will be on the visiting list. Patients also appear on the visiting list if relatives or ministers in the community have called or emailed the Chaplaincy team to request a visit or if the ward staff request that a person is seen. The Chaplain will be bleeped if medical staff feel a person is withdrawn or dying or just needs to talk.
Mark notes: “We are not just there for religious people but for people of any faith or none”.
It is common to be asked to see someone who feels lost in hospital. As Mark explains, it can be a very strange experience for people. The conversations which Mark and his colleagues have with people can contain many words or very few. He will gradually seek to form a relationship with the person and quite often feels that the benefit from these relationships is mutual.
Mark’s role is to provide support and comfort, not to preach. He will seek to help people find spiritual sustenance in poetry, children, gardening or whatever is meaningful within their life, as well as their faith.
This year, the staff at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been tasked with saving a challenging £10 million, which naturally puts people facing difficult situations under additional amounts of stress. Staff are encouraged to visit the ‘Sacred Space’ for a chat, as work can be traumatic, but the chaplains are a presence on the wards and in the corridors and are known in the hospital community to be available to all..
At any time during a working day there are up to 5,500 people – staff, patients, visitors, contractors and volunteers - in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It is a community and a place where people have deep spiritual needs.
Mark concluded by reminding the gathering that patients, staff and chaplains need our prayers.
Rev Mark Jones is a Baptist minister. He previously led a rural parish in Leicestershire. He has been part of the Chaplaincy team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital since July 2010.
This article is based on an account by Peter Coates, Secretary of Churches Together in King's Lynn.