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Rose McKeown

Week 2 / Strategic Chaplaincy / Interview w/ Larry Gray

I also found this interview to be very engaging. I’m sorry that I was not part of the live presentation. I forgot about the time change!
Larry is certainly an example of a life-long learner! I appreciated his sharing his background with us and am amazed at all the experience he has had and how he continues to help others in their growth.
I hadn’t thought about how I influenced the culture of the organization but I realize that we Sisters have done that all along as we sponsored the hospital for 100 years. As a Catholic healthcare system, just like the Baptist Health System Larry was part of, it was a very welcoming environment to practice the values of compassion and care as a healthcare system. As pastoral care director, I was also on the Mission Effectiveness team and took part in new employee orientation sharing the history of the hospital and the mission of the hospital. Employees had a sense that all their work had a pastoral care dimension to it.
But then change came as we Sisters were no longer able to sponsor the hospital for a variety of reasons. We merged with Memorial Health System out of Springfield, Il. It was a good match as they at one time had been a Lutheran hospital. They very much respected the legacy of the Sisters and wished to carry it on and grow to the next phase of the hospital’s history.
There were just two of us Sisters left in the hospital. How could we provide care for this new organization as well as for the individuals in it? Here, Larry’s explanation of having a ‘growth mindset’ vs. a ‘scarcity mindset’ comes to play. As many of the employees and town folks were lamenting the change, grieving the loss, we two Sisters had the mission to help staff and town to see the opportunities and possibilities that could be because of this change. The hospital has grown leaps and bounds in the 12 years that it has been part of Memorial Health System-from having a very good EAP program for staff, a very good retirement and savings plan and improved salaries, improved care for patients with improved technology etc. etc. Using the “growth mindset” we continue to grow and flourish. In a year from now, we will move into a new hospital building with the newest technologies in patient care.
There will be more organizational grief when the present day building is torn down and pastoral care will be involved in ritualizing that grief yet also celebrating the hopeful future that awaits us. Changes we’ve had: move to category of a Critical Access Hospital, no more maternity unit, change of sponsorship, removal of some of the religious articles and signs, fewer Sisters and now a new building and a tearing down of the old.
Chaplains also make daily rounds with staff and patients. We do not have ‘chaplaincy by referral” at the hospital. We do in hospice and it is something I am not in agreement with. At the hospital every new patient is visited and follow-up visits are made each day.
We have a prayer box by chapel and people place their prayer requests there and often a phone number for pastoral care staff to respond. We have the blessing of hands during hospital week. All this helps to influence the culture of the organizational.
We are blessed with a System leadership who very much have that ‘emotional intelligence’ that Larry spoke of . They have an ‘open-door’ policy, especially here at our hospital. Our system leaders CONNECT with employees through workplace. They share their part and employees can ask questions which are responded to in a timely manner.
Our CEO will often come to me as Sister and chaplain asking for input and prayer support.