I received an email today regarding the chaplain and social worker cutbacks in the FHA today. According to the article that I read in the AbbyNews , 12 hospital based chaplains and 15 social worker positions will be cut. I'd like to address the cuts to chaplaincy services.
I am a believer in the value of pastoral/chaplaincy ministry in hospital situations. There's no doubt that good spiritual/emotional support in this setting contributes to the health and recovery of patients who are open to receive it. I am also a realist and recognize that given the choice between a chaplain's position or an ER or Surgical nurse, the vast majority of the population will choose nurses. We live in challenging economic times and while I would prefer something different, in this case I understand why this decision has to be made.
Some of the most creative and successful approaches have arisen during some of the most difficult seasons. I see an opportunity for faith based groups and individuals who are concerned about these particular cuts to become proactive and provide a creative solution to the situation. Several years ago, the IHA made similar cuts to chaplaincy positions in Kamloops. In that particular situation, a local MLA took leadership and raised the necessary resources to provide for chaplaincy services at RIH.
The region served by the FHA is home to BC's largest churches and because of population alone, has more church groups than anywhere else in the province. While it's not fair to look at the largest churches alone and expect them to shoulder the financial burden, it is realistic to look to the church community as a whole to consider finding a way to creatively fund this important area of ministry. We, more than anyone else should be committed to seeing these positions continue and if necessary, find the ways and means to properly resource them through our own efforts. I realize this a departure from expecting government and health authorities to fund this through tax dollars, but perhaps this is also a way for the church to provide leadership within our communities and to be a blessing to caregivers and patients alike.
I'm calling on denominational leaders, pastors and churches to give serious consideration to finding a creative way to serve the people of the FHA through ensuring the continuation of these services. It's time to put our faith to work and ensure that chaplaincy services continue within the FHA.