Paul C. Edwards

Our facility does not have an outpatient Palliative Care program. However, we do have a Hospice program that provides spiritual support to outpatients and their families who are on the hospice service. Things are a bit weird because our facility has been integrated into a larger health system and there are two spiritual care models that sometimes appear to be overlapping. That process is still ongoing and no one knows for sure what that will eventually look like when the dust settles.

Anyway, the need for spiritual care in outpatient settings, as the article points out, is certainly an opportunity to address a largely unmet need. I am solo at my place, and,with almost beds, it is a challenge. I have been called, (on several occasions), to the outpatient cancer center, (located in an adjoining building) to provide spiritual support to patients who were in for treatment. It so happens that many of the patients in the outpatients center, from time to time, come in to the medical center as inpatients, so I do have opportunity to provide continuity of care for those patients.

Among several things that stood out for me in the article was the reference to chaplains being board certified. In my part of the world, (Pittsburgh, PA), some facilities are not as keen to push for that in terms of their hiring practices. Others have resorted to using volunteers who do not have any training in CPE at all. That has resulted, (in my mind), in spiritual care providers who are not as competent as they need to be in the healthcare setting.