Rector's Reflections

The rector's reflection on recent and upcoming parish events

Published Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Realizing Some of the Changing Times We Live In

Realizing Some of the Changing Times We Live In

 

As summer approaches, I can't wait to enjoy the warm, summer evenings by a campfire or swimming in the pool with the sun beaming its golden rays. Growing up, I remember summer with some less than favorable memories such as bug bites and frequent trips to the emergency room. I was a bit of a daredevil, and they knew me at the two hospitals by my first name. Reflecting on hospitals and the excellent service they provide, I realize that times have changed not only in technology but also in ideology.

 

Back in the 1990s, our Congress passed legislation to provide better healthcare and continuity of care by making it easier for healthcare providers to speak with one another and to reduce abuse of the medical system. Thus, in 1996 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—more commonly known as HIPAA—became law. You experience it every time you try to get a prescription filled because of the seemingly endless amount of paperwork you have to sign and privacy safeguards you must read and acknowledge.

 

If you feel it’s aggravating, imagine how the healthcare professionals feel! But failure to comply is not an option. The fines, loss of jobs, prison sentences, or closing of entire healthcare establishments are not only possible but have already happened. Protecting our right to privacy has come at a high cost.

 

One such cost is that hospitals no longer contact local clergy. In addition, most smaller and midsized hospitals have shuttered their chaplain positions. Receiving spiritual care in a hospital is not what it used to be. I remember walking in the hospitals and nurses would come up and direct me to rooms, even to people I did not know, to spend time and pray with them. Now, it is tough for me to gain any information, even a room number at times, when doing a pastoral visit. Unless I become a volunteer employee at every hospital in the area with scheduled visit times, I will not know who is in the hospital.

 

Let’s make this personal. Some of you may wonder why am I not there when you are in the hospital. It’s because I don’t know—you or your family haven’t told me. Just because you gave the hospital staff this information and asked them to call, doesn’t mean they’ll contact me. I can tell you that they won't. I’ve heard many reasons, from staffing to HIPAA, but no matter what the reason or excuse is, the fact remains they’re not calling.

 

However, we can fix this. Keep telling the medical providers caring for you know that you are a member of Christ's Church, Greensburg, the Anglican Church in Greensburg, and insist they call. But also call me or have a loved one call me and I will get there as soon as I can. Remember to call my cell phone if it's after hours.

 

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday and every Sunday at church and not have to worry about the hospitals! Have a blessed and safe summer!

 

In Christ's Love.    Fr. Jeff +