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Explore Chaplain Roles in Your Disaster Plans

Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media, September 15, 2009

Most hospitals either have chaplains on staff or relationships with local houses of worship to bring spiritual leaders in for everyday patient counseling.

Beyond a chaplain's typical duties, however, it is important to remember what roles these people might play in your emergency operations plan. Ask your emergency management coordinator whether he or she has considered this aspect.

Accounting for chaplains in your emergency response plans and related employee training will help better prepare your hospital for disasters, said Marge McFarlane, PhD, MS, CHSP, principal at Superior Performance, LLC, in Eau Claire, WI.

Such efforts can also help meet The Joint Commission's requirements for emergency management.

For example, chaplains will be able to assist a mental health unit to ease patient and staff member stress brought on by disaster trauma—as Julie Greig, Dominican Sister and hospital chaplain at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, did during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

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