Although a hospital visit is typically a biological event, serious illness
can be frightening and isolate a patient from their usual support system
when that is what they need the most.
Although he retired from Hickory’s St. Aloysious Catholic church
seven years ago, Ed Sheridan (Father Ed), says that he enjoys supporting
caregivers with a fresh infusion of spirituality. He works shoulder to
shoulder with doctors and nurses three days a week to provide care and
support for patients, their families and the medical staff at CVMC.
“I got a call from a CVMC administrator asking if I might want to
meet with patients and families who may not have a church or a pastor,”
said Father Sheridan. “I have found working in the hospital to be
extremely gratifying as it gives me many opportunities to make a difference
in the life of someone else at a time when they are coping with fear,
loss and uncertainty.”
In the same way a patient would expect a skilled medical provider during
surgery, Father Ed complements that dimension of care with a focus on
spiritual and emotional support. Regardless of a patient’s religious
affiliation or personal belief system, he helps them cope with illness,
trauma, loss and life transitions by integrating body, mind and spirit.
Father Ed draws on years of experience and extensive pastoral training
to convey support through words, prayers, touch, facial expressions and,
sometimes, just by having a compassionate presence.
“Working in a hospital setting is very different than serving a church
family,” said Father Ed. “When patients face grief and loss
due to impaired physical and cognitive capabilities, a change in independence,
work or family status, the emotional imbalance can seriously impact their
sense of meaning, purpose, or personal worth. It’s my goal to help
them see reasons to live.”
Father Ed often gives patients his personal cell phone number. While other
members of the CVMC Pastoral Care team rotate on call responsibilities
with him, Father Ed, who lives in nearby Mt. View, says that he is always
available if someone needs to see a chaplain.