Hospital Chaplains: The Heart of Catholic Healthcare
Jan Tardif has been a chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital for 13 years. She works full-time, along with her fellow chaplain, Terri Nault. “We’re a spiritual support team,” Jan says.
Jan shares, “I have a background in hospice and pastoral care. My role is to connect with patients, and their family members, and support them. Sometimes that means praying together. Other times, it simply means being compassionate.”
Outreach is a Priority
Chaplains have a great deal of responsibility. They’re members of the Ethics Committee, they work with the Trauma Team, they sit in on rounds with the Intensive Care Interdisciplinary Team, and they participate in memorial services.
Every morning Jan and Terri begin their day with a briefing on the hospital’s newest patients. Their policy is to visit new patients within 24-48 hours. After they connect, they determine if a revisit is warranted.
“Our hospital’s mission is to provide healing care for the whole person in service to all in our communities. We wholeheartedly believe an integral part of care is meeting the spiritual and religious needs of our patients as well as their loved ones,” Jan says. “We’re considerate of each patient’s traditions and beliefs and offer appropriate prayer, comfort and support to facilitate healing, recovery and peace.”
Care and Kindness Efforts
The hospital’s chapel is always open. A chaplain is available each day and is on call at night. In addition to providing spiritual support, chaplains may distribute the Eucharist and more. They also offer two special prayers:
The Patient’s Prayer
If Jan is asked for support, she offers her favorite prayer, which reads:
Make me an instrument of Your healing
When I am weak and in pain, help me to rest
When I am anxious, help me to wait
When I am tearful, help me to trust…
Shawls are knit by local community members. They’re a tangible gift many patients appreciate. When a patient receives a shawl from a chaplain, this prayer is offered: May this gift handmade for you with love, be a mantle and sign of God’s healing presence. May it warm you when weary, may it encircle you with caring when you are in pain. May it comfort you when you feel alone. May it remind you of God’s abiding love. Amen.
“I sincerely love what I do,” Jan says. “I’m often introduced to people in a sincere time of need. I’m blessed to offer them a measure of comfort.”
St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua is a Covenant Health member.