Clergy Appreciation Day on the second Sunday in October reminds us to recognize the work of ministers, pastors, and priests in the United States.
Here at High Peaks Hospice, we would like to celebrate Mark Bailey, our Chaplain/Spiritual Coordinator. We appreciate all that Mark brings to the team, and especially to the individuals and families we serve.
During the end-of-life process, a Hospice Chaplain honors and nurtures a patient’s spiritual needs. They are an important part of a hospice care team.
Hospice Chaplains serve as a valuable and compassionate resource for patients during the end of life to ensure they receive the spiritual care they need according to their beliefs and wishes. A chaplain helps guide patients by helping them explore common feelings as well as questions surrounding the meaning of life to help them find peace and comfort. While everyone’s end-of-life journey is different, Hospice Chaplains help patients receive the care they need to feel comfort, compassion, and peace in their final days.
Read the Q and A to learn more about our own Hospice Chaplain, Mark Bailey:
How long have you been a chaplain? A little about you personally?
I have been a member of the clergy since 1985 and also began serving in the chaplain capacity that same year. I started with the Stony Creek Fire Company and then went on to work three years in the Army as a Chaplain Assistant, where I worked with all faith backgrounds.
I have been at High Peaks Hospice for three years and earned my Masters of Divinity in Community Chaplaincy in 2020. In addition to my role here at High Peaks Hospice, I am currently the Pastor of the Oneida Community Church.
My focus has always been on the community. I am on the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army and other disaster preparedness boards throughout the county. These connections help me find resources when needed, such as getting a ramp delivered for a family, raising money for a well pump that went, or a last-minute request to get a hospital bed for near a window so a patient can spend their last night looking out the window.
What drew you to joining High Peaks Hospice?
The first church I worked at served an aging community where I first realized the need for in-home care. In 1990, I worked as an adjunct chaplain at the Glens Falls Hospital Cancer Wing. I continue to offer volunteer pastoral care to this day to hospital patients and those facing terminal illness.
How do you handle when a hospice patient is apprehensive about you or to help them open up to you?
It’s just a matter of introductions. Sometimes I keep it light and say, “I’m just here for entertainment.” If I see they are military, I lead with that. I let them know they can step aside from any prodding or poking and that I am there for them.
Can you provide some insight on how you support patients spiritually?
Spirituality is not so much about your religious beliefs as it is about your “inner being.” I connect with patients and their loved ones and find out what they think about their life. Academically this is called learning what their “worldview” is. I’m not representing any religion, just trying to figure out who they are, what their needs are, and how I can help them meet them. It’s about asking, “what matters to you?” and “what brings you peace?” If there are any concerns or barriers, I help them address these and work through them.
I often utilize what is known as a narrative approach, which is a practice of simply telling stories about what matters to us and during this process we figure out what challenges exist and what to focus on. That’s where a chaplain tries to help…to address the challenges that surface, and we bring the whole clinical team in to help.
The uniqueness of High Peaks Hospice is that I do the role in collaboration with the team while focusing on the patient and their needs. I specifically enjoy the ability I have here to respond right away. The goal is to help them find peace.
What does being a Hospice Chaplain mean to you?
It’s my part of caring for people…my way of giving back and doing what I can to help. The joy of it is in the giving.
Some words about Mark from others:
“Mark is always willing to go above and beyond to help our patients; he’s selfless in the ways that he utilizes his connections within the community to help our patients and families. He has paired with the Salvation Army on a few occasions that I’m aware of, in order to look into resources that families otherwise couldn’t afford. He does his best to give our patients the best shot at obtaining resources that may have a lack of funding or opportunity behind them.”
– Bri Eastman, MSW
“He is always willing to step in and help families with WHATEVER they may need – whether it be moving a bed or building a ramp.”
– Maureen Losch, Volunteer Coordinator
“Please make sure to send that Chaplain back here to see me – in his conversations he addresses me as a person – not a patient.”
“We are so appreciative of Mark… he is giving my dad such comfort.”
– Family of a HPH Patient”
Thank you Mark for all you do!
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