Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2021 Blog Number 29
July 19, 2021
Holy Name Hospital and Visiting Clergy
It has been a common practice for hospitals to allow visiting clergy free parking privileges, and often extensions above and beyond visiting hours. This has been my experience since I was a seminary student in the 1980’s and has been true at both private and public hospitals. The theory behind these special privliges is that visiting clergy supplement the spiritual care of the Pastoral Care departments of hospitals and that giving spiritual car to patients is good for their health and recovery. At times I have heard from nurses that we are “part of the team.” I am wondering if this is true at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ.
Like most hospitals in years past area clergy were given ID tags that said, “clergy.” A while back Holy Name issued us tags that say, “contractor.” I wasn’t sure whether or not this was a step up or a step down in value and prestige.
Of course, for over a year, the Covid-19 plague precluded me, and other local clergy from visiting. It is only recently that I have been able to visit again. In most hospitals clergy ID is sufficient to allow visits and no additional visitor tag is required. This is not true at Holy Name Hospital. Holy Name requires an additional visitor badge to visit. I visit patients at Holy Name with two tags instead of one. This always made me wonder what the value of these tags actually is.
At the parking lot, my tag no longer opens the gate to the employee lot where we once parked. Instead, I took a ticket at the visitors lot to visit at the hospital. I inquired at the desk about parking vouchers and was told that they “no longer validate parking tickets.” Any questions on parking tags should be brought to security.
I went to security and was told that I would have to speak to Pastoral Care. There was no longer anyone in that office so I called the next day. I was told that Pastoral Care no longer gives such parking tags to local clergy. I assume that the hospital no longer sees local clergy as being a valuable part of the healing team. I guess we don’t matter.
The flexibility of visiting hours has often been helpful to patients who wish their clergy to pray with them before surgeries or procedures. Recently I went to visit a patient at 11:00 in the morning. It seemed like a reasonable time to visit and I knew that she would be having a procedure and I wished to see her beforehand. I was told by the lady at the reception desk that “visiting hours start at noon.” I explained that I was visiting clergy and showed her my tag. She repeated, “visiting hours start at noon.” My hospital issued tag, obviously did not matter. With no clergy parking or visitation flexibility, what is the purpose of the tag? I waited till noon while trying to call the patient on the phone to know avail. When I got to the room shortly after noon, the room was empty. She had gone to her procedure shortly before noon.
These procedures certainly will not keep me from visiting congregation members who are patients. I will simply pay to park and alter my visitation times to keep compliant with the established hours. I can’t help but wonder why a hospital that calls itself “Holy Name” would hold visiting clergy is such disregard. Since Holy Name is not living up to its name maybe it is time for the hospital to adapt a new name. Maybe it should be called, “Teaneck Hospital.”
Am I wrong? Do you agree with me? Please “like,” “share,” and comment on this. I would like thousands of people to know who Holy Name Hospital disregards visiting clergy.
# PastoralVisitation #ClergyParking
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/