Healing for the Body, Mind and Spirit


Gritman Volunteer Chaplains Remain Faithful to Appointed Rounds

Volunteer chaplain Bruce Pitman is often with patients during their most trying and emotional moments.

He may be there to offer comfort and reassurance before or after a major procedure. Or he may find himself in the Gritman Emergency Department waiting room, providing support to a family waiting for updates on a loved one.

It is a privilege and responsibility he does not take lightly.

Gritman volunteer chaplains group photo
Gritman’s team of volunteer chaplains is available 24/7 to help comfort and support patients and their loved ones.

“We have times when we are literally with them at their darkest moment,” Pitman said. “It is humbling to be allowed in that space, where they are able to share some of their fears and hopes, to be present and hopefully provide some comfort.”

Pitman is one of a dozen volunteer chaplains dedicated to providing emotional and spiritual support to Gritman patients and their loved ones. The team launched in 2018 and includes on-call community leaders who conduct “rounds” in the hospital each week and who can be called upon 24/7.

“The nursing staff has a specific job to do in terms of the care of patients, but we can sit with someone and hear their stories and talk with them,” outgoing Chaplain Facilitator Debbie Sperry said. “We are not there as problem-solvers; we are not there as professional counselors–we are there as companions on the journey.”

And while the volunteer chaplains are leaders in Moscow’s faith communities, their services can be more akin to emotional support to patients in need.

“It’s about sitting and just talking, emotional support,” Gritman Volunteer Coordinator Kim Malm said. “It’s really about just sitting and listening, holding a hand if needed, they just simply knock on the door.”

Such support moved away from an in-person environment early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but chaplains were among the first non-clinical staff to resume hospital rounds. And while services are directed toward patients, chaplains can be just as important to family members in the hospital who may just want someone to talk with.

They also help ease anxiety of staff who may go through a stressful situation in service of their patients.

“I think the staff was really glad to have the chaplains come back when they started doing their rounding again,” Malm said. “I think it speaks volumes about the program, they really do offer the support for patients and staff.”

Caring for the whole patient—through medicine, wholesome and nutritious food, and nurturing the soul—is an example of how Gritman is embodying its mission of service to patients and their loved ones.