The Chaplaincy ministry of the CBC Health Services was initiated in 1964 by Dr. Peter Fehr then a medical doctor in BBH. At the beginning this was only meant to take care of morning and evening devotions with the patients. In 1973, the chaplaincy program was extended to MBH.
Currently, the Chaplaincy program covers CBCHS’s facility network of six hospitals, 28 integrated health centers and 49 primary health centers in six of the country’s ten regions.From just one chaplain in 1964, the department now counts 43 trained chaplains who are working hard to ensure that there is a safe, confidential and supportive environment in which healing and wholeness can occur across CBCHealth Services institutions.
The CBCHS chaplaincy service was born from the desire to offer psycho spiritual and psychosocial care to clients, their caregivers, visitors as well as to the personnel of the health facility so as to achieve the wholistic care approach to health care promoted by the CBCHS.
The CBCHS is aware that the day-to-day duties of the chaplain are highly sensitive. In this way, care is taken to select and train prospective chaplains. To effectively achieve this, the CBCHS runs a Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and Social Services (CECPES) where the chaplains are trained. Also, there is a Community Counseling Clinic (CCC) attached to the Center where cases for long term counseling and psychotherapy are referred for proper management. CBCHS chaplains are sometimes sent to this center for practicum.
The chaplains are involved in multi-dimensional activities which range from taking care of the psycho-spiritual and psychosocial needs of the clients, their care givers, visitors and the staff. On the whole, the chaplain’s activities aim at improving staff-client relationships through enhanced communication; ease decision making in difficult times such as death or amputations as well as manage/resolve conflicts arising among staff. In some cases like in Life Abundant Primary Health (LAP) facilities, they meet the peoples’ diverse social needs such as feeding, clothing and or provide financial support for medical needs given that most of these people are extremely poor (See Activities Report).
Since inception, the CBCHS Chaplaincy Department continues to grow to meet the increasing psycho-spiritual and social needs of the clients, their caregivers, visitors as well as the health care providers.
The accomplishments of the Chaplaincy service are numerous. They include several conflicts that have been resolved; staff that have been counseled and restored and many needy clients that have received social support in various forms including paying their medical bills. Through grief counseling, many clients are receiving consolation and regaining hope in life through Christ.
Though the CBCHS chaplaincy continues to make significant strides, the department still faces huge challenges some of which include:
Limited literature on chaplaincy:With the current technological evolutions in the world, there is the need for chaplaincy professionals to stay abreast with all new concepts and approaches in this field.The Chaplaincy department is in dire need for current literature materials and tools to regularly upgrade their knowledge, skills and competencies in client care.
Limited funds: The CBCHS Chaplaincy department has not received any external funding since creation. All its funds come from the already limited resources generated by the CBCHS through her facilities. These funds are always very limited, and so, do not allow the Chaplaincy service to cater for the needs of all clients who are poor. Such needs include food, clothing and medication.
No mobility means for supervision:The geographic area of the program now is vast (six of the country’s ten regions) with over 30 health facilities. This poses a challenge of regular and timely supervision. This is even further compounded by the absence of a mobility means to enable the supervisor shuttle between facilities to ensure that services are provided according to standards.
Human resource development:Although the CBCHS has put in place support services for the capacity building of chaplains, it has only one certified trainer who is constantly overwhelmed with work. The CBCHS is currently sourcing for external support in the area of human resource development oversees or on the spot.
The importance of the Chaplaincy services within a health facility milieu cannot be over emphasized as it bridges communication gaps between the service provider who may always be too busy to listen and a client who is often too anxious and impatient. Additionally, there is no doubt that an effective chaplaincy service will further enhance a work environment by limiting time wasters such as staff conflicts resulting sometimes from misinterpretations of policy.
However, despite our good intentions, limited financial resources continue to slow down our plans which are to scale up chaplaincy services to cover every facility of the CBCHS and also improve the quality of chaplaincy services currently offered. The key consequences of these financial limitations are inadequate supervision, limited number of trainers, and inadequate equipment in our counseling rooms and finally, the inability of the chaplaincy service to address most; especially the social needs of clients in need.