Monday, July 16, 2007

The Rev. Peg Muncie at work

“Hi, I’m Peggy Muncie, a hospital chaplain,” she says. “Would you like a visit?”

She’s not there to thump. Deftly, she asks people how they’re feeling, then lets them vent their pain and fear, their anxiety and frustration. She nods, a little pushy with her probing. She flags a nurse. “Can you direct a doctor toward that patient?” she whispers.

And always, at the end of a visit: “Would it be all right if I prayed with you?” The health care chaplain will touch a forehead, hold a hand and quietly pray worries to the Divine, speaking with inflections that, as needed, may be Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim. For the Baptist woman in Bed 7 whose anxieties are making her chest pain worse, the chaplain prays for calm to allow the medicine to work. Gradually, the patient’s breathing slows.

“My job is to be present to patients without judgment,” Chaplain Muncie says as she pumps a hand sanitizer, “and to help them find out what is meaningful to guide them through the stress of illness.”

Great piece from the NY Times.


Jane R said...

Excellent, Deirdre, thanks for pointing us to this.

Simon Barrow said...

Wonderful. This is the second "good chaplain" story in two days for me. The other concerned an RC priest helping a friend's family through a sudden and shocking bereavement.

Faith STF said...

Thursday, July 26, 2007
I had the pleasure and privilege of being a recipient of Peggy's wonderful, theologically grounded pastoral care in May and June. My surrogate godfather ended up in St. Luke's rather suddenly, and due to all sorts of unforeseen complications (turns out his heart was really pretty bad, never mind his broken hip!), he went up and down like a roller coaster over a period of several weeks, and then spiraled downward onto a respirator and died at the end of May. His daughters live in Calif (one of whom was my college roomate eons ago) and his current wife I have only known for a few years. She and I spent Mother's Day afternoon up there at the hospital. Peggy was located shortly thereafter, and was fabulous throughout - ministering to a bunch of mostly C&E Episcopalians (myself excluded) , discussing end of life decisions, being there with the family when he died, planning the service including helping his widow choose the readings and readers, running the service, preaching a fabulously realistic but celebratory homily, all the way through a burial service the next day in upper Connecticut. I cannot say enough good things about her pastoral care..calm..thoughtful...humorous when needed...embracing...people are still writing and commenting to his widow on the wonderful service (St. Luke's Hospital chapel was packed to overflowing). This was also complicated by timing (almost 5 weeks between his death and the services due to various family and friends' travel schedules) and the fact that there were several "families" involved (he had been married a few times) 10 points for Peggy's chaplaincy and her priestly gifts - also 10 more points for the BCP liturgy. I was so proud to be an Episcopal New Yorker! Faith (St. James' parishioner)

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