The Edmond Sun

October 9, 2012

Mercy chaplains connect electronically


Special to The Sun

EDMOND — The grief of losing a loved one, anxiety after a frightening medical diagnosis, worry over caring for an aging parent — these aren’t necessarily medical problems but they are certainly related spiritual issues. Now Mercy patients and co-workers have an additional place to turn. It’s called e-chaplaincy, and it allows people to reach out to chaplains for prayer and support via email.

“Sometimes we find ourselves in challenging situations,” said the Rev. Beverly Powell, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City chaplain. “I would like for people to know they don’t need to face the circumstances alone. This new outreach helps me extend my ministry to more people who need a listening ear.”

Two of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City’s chaplains are responding to the online messages. Powell, a seven-year Mercy chaplain, is one of them.

“I’m so proud of how culturally relevant Mercy is,” Powell said. “I love that co-workers, patients and family members can reach me online. It allows me to interact with more people than I could before. And that’s what it’s all about — meeting an unmet need. That’s why I joined the ministry in the first place.”

Getting in touch with a chaplain is as easy as logging on to MyMercy.net, going to the message center and clicking on “contact a chaplain.” People will then be able to correspond with chaplains via email or request a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Strict confidentiality is maintained at all times but as email is not always a secure method of communication, personal details should be kept to a minimum.

“Sometimes we face issues that are very private,” Powell said. “I’m hearing people say that it’s easier to make that first contact for help online rather than in person or reaching out to family or colleagues.”

Some of the issues chaplains address from a spiritual and emotional perspective include: Grief/loss, relationship issues, loneliness, stress, managing change, life balance, spirituality and growth, health issues and coping and finding a support group.

E-chaplaincy is not a professional counseling service. Instead, one of Mercy’s trained chaplains can offer practical advice at times of change and challenge, a listening ear, prayer and support and additional resources. There are 12 trained e-chaplains across Mercy with plans to expand the service as needed. E-chaplaincy is now available to patients, co-workers and caregivers in all Mercy communities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, nearly 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.