Mercy patients and their family members can now request prayer or support via email. E-chaplaincy can provide support for those grieving the loss of a loved one, experiencing anxiety after receiving a diagnosis or worrying about caring for a family member.
"For someone who is up at 3 a.m. worrying or unable to break away from work to schedule an appointment, e-chaplaincy allows them to reach out at their convenience," said Julie Jones, Mercy executive director of mission and ministry. "We want to make sure our patients have spiritual support at all times."
Patients and family members can contact a Mercy chaplain through MyMercy.net or online at www.mercy.net/echaplain. The service allows patients or their family members to correspond with a chaplain through email or request a phone call.
Rev. Mark Chamberlin, Mercy chaplain in Springfield, said he recently received an email from an out-of-state relative who had not been able to make contact with their loved one at the hospital.
"They asked us to go assure that person of the love, concern and support from their family," said Chamberlin. "I received a follow-up email expressing the relative's gratitude for our involvement in the patient's care."
Issues chaplains address from a spiritual and emotional perspective include: grief and loss; relationship issues; loneliness; stress; managing change; life balance; spirituality and growth; health issues and coping; and finding a support group.
Although e-chaplaincy is not a professional counseling service, Mercy's trained chaplains can offer practical advice at times of change and challenge. They also offer a listening ear, prayer and support.
Mercy currently offers 12 trained e-chaplains. The service will be expanded as needed. Future plans include the addition of video chat at clinic locations.
Even though strict confidentiality is maintained at all times, patients and family members should remember that email is not always a secure method of communication and personal details should be kept to a minimum.