Leap of faith: Get to know a Norton Healthcare chaplain

Chaplains care for spiritual and emotional needs for patients, families and hospital employees. Learn about the compassionate support a Norton Healthcare chaplain can provide.

Faith has been a fundamental part of Norton Healthcare ever since 1881, when Mary Louise Sutton Norton donated her home to be transformed into a hospital by the Home Mission Society of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Today, our pastoral care department supports patients, families and employees with a compassionate team of 23 chaplains. The Rev. Lorie Jacobs, chaplain at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, has graciously offered to provide a glimpse into her perspective and experience as a chaplain.

What kind of support does a chaplain provide?

Chaplains mainly provide informed emotional and spiritual support, regardless of faith or belief. Visiting patients and families, while also lending support to our employees throughout the hospital, is a big part of my daily routine. We are available to serve as a calming presence for emergency care situations, too, like codes or traumas. We’ll meet with you in facility chapels or at the bedside, or simply be someone to lean on anywhere when you need an honest, caring, judgment-free conversation, prayer or a silent partner. We help patients, families and staff through end-of-life decisions and advance directives, such as living wills. I think we are reliable, strong leaders and advocates.

Chaplains are available 24/7 for support

Call (502) 629-8000 and let the operator know you’re calling to speak to a chaplain.

What led you to become a chaplain?

I was 40 when God called me to become a chaplain. At the time, I worked for United Crescent Hill Ministries (UCHM) as their interim development director. A friend of mine that I met through UCHM asked me to attend a death and dying seminar with her. By the end of that presentation, I heard God’s calling on my life, and I knew I wanted to become a chaplain to learn how to support and serve people through difficult times. I enrolled in seminary, completed clinical pastoral education and then excitedly began the next chapter of my life with Norton Healthcare, the same organization that provided my training. From seminary to employment, it was about a five-year journey.

What can employees take away from interactions with our chaplains?

Staff care is of the utmost importance to me. I always tell the employees I encounter: We’re always here. Patients and families go home but we’re here together every day, and I’ll do whatever I can to support you in good times and bad. Whether you want to connect to discuss faith, or you need someone to talk to about personal or family matters, I and my colleagues are here to serve you. I hope that anyone who connects with a chaplain, employee or otherwise, comes away hopeful, feeling heard and cared for.

Do chaplains offer nonreligious support?

Yes! Even if people don’t follow a specific religion or denomination, I believe everybody has a spiritual bend on some level. It may just not fit in a particular category. In our assessments, chaplains focus on the person’s individual needs, hopes and resources, mutually finding ways to care that resonate. Similarly, I think we work toward offering culturally-sensitive pastoral care that’s inclusive of all faiths. Whether someone identifies with a certain set of beliefs or not, it’s all about meeting people where they are and offering space to find hope and meaning.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?

Meeting with someone one on one, listening to them, giving them space to speak their truth and coaching them on how to find their own answers. I think it means more when an idea or solution comes from within. My former clinical pastoral education supervisor says that we already have within us what we need, but sometimes we need help accessing our strengths or skills. I’m just one puzzle piece in the healing process, but it feels really good to be a part of that process.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I love being outside taking care of my garden. Family is incredibly important to me, so if I’m not visiting my sisters or parents, I’m calling or texting to keep in touch. Spending time with my husband, his siblings and my dogs brings me great joy. My husband can sense when I’m having a hard day, so he often tells me one of his corny jokes, which always makes me laugh.

Chaplains are available 24/7 for support. Call (502) 629-8000 and let the operator know you’re calling to speak to a chaplain.

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