48 Renown Employees Laid Off, Including Spiritual Leaders

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48 Renown hospital employees have been let go in the past month and now, management is targeting people who deal directly with patients.

Management at Renown Medical Center had to lay off two of the company's chaplains in the past week, due to budget constraints. Company officials say it's part of their continuing evaluation of departments and services at the hospital.

Hospital management says it won't cut any crucial patient care positions, although in some people's eyes, chaplains are crucial to patient care.

Renown officials say spiritual services at the hospital won't be affected by the recent layoffs, although the cutbacks left four full-time chaplains to look over some 350 patients a day. The hospital will now rely on volunteers from the community to meet the needs of those who wish for spiritual guidance.

Across town at Saint Mary's hospital, there are five full-time chaplains and a corps of 50 volunteers to serve 200 patients at a time.

Sister Mary Keiffer says the spiritual program has been an integral part of patient care at the hospital for nearly 100 years. Five days a week, she visits patients room-to-room, talking to them and guiding them. She calls it a ministry of presence.

"The hope that I bring is listening. The healing begins with listening to people's stories. So many times and especially in present culture, how many times do we really listen to each other?" said Keiffer.

Sister Mary says she also helps the grieving families of patients...hospital employees who feel troubled. Religion is not the most important part of the program, but rather, the need to treat patients in mind, body and in spirit...regardless of their religious preferences.

"Sometimes people come to the hospital and it triggers a spiritual crisis, just the very nature of being in a hospital is scary and that triggers a spiritual crisis," she added.

She says she and the other chaplains may not practice medicine, but that over the years, she's seen people healed by spirituality in some of their most vulnerable moments. In times of struggle, sickness, or death, spiritual guidance is sometimes exactly what they need.

A Renown spokesman tells us the hospital is still in a budget cycle, so managers will continue looking at each department and every resource they have, to decide what is, and what isn't essential.