Baylor Scott & White Health chaplains can respond to prayer and support requests from people of all faiths or no religious affiliation through the Community Support wall, which is open to everyone whether or not they are Baylor Scott & White patients. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
An innovative online service lets Baylor Scott & White Health chaplains support people’s spiritual and emotional needs beyond hospital walls. The faith-based healthcare provider rolled out its Community Support wall online and via its MyBSWHealth app earlier this year.
The feature, which is anonymous and available to everyone, not just Baylor Scott & White patients, is a virtual community for prayer requests, support, and encouragement.
And it doesn’t matter if users aren’t people of faith.
“We’ve tried to make the language kind of agnostic so that people of faith and people of no faith can both post and get support from our awesome chaplains, who are trained to speak with people of faith and no faith,” said Jacob Scott, director of Digital Health for Baylor Scott & White.
The chaplains monitor the Community Support wall and respond to each post within 24 hours.
People across the country and around the world can also respond with prayers and support.
“I think it’s just very powerful when people realize there are others willing to listen,” Scott said.
Daniel Roberts, chaplain for Innovation in Spiritual Care Delivery, said the service is like an old-fashioned prayer chain with a digital touch.
“This is, in many ways, a way our health service can offer that same service,” Roberts said. “I think it’s an extension of what a lot of faith communities in the past have done.”
HOW TO USE
After setting up a free Baylor Scott & White account through the website or app, click on the Community Support tab, which will take you to the wall, where you can go through the thousands of posts, add a comment or like one, or make your own requests for support or prayer.
As more healthcare services move outside of the hospital, these digital offerings provide a needed place for chaplains, patients, and others to interact.
“This definitely gives us a chance to reach out to our patients who are experiencing spiritual distress or having spiritual needs outside the hospitals,” Roberts said. “Healthcare is moving more and more to the outpatient setting, and this allows us a way to be able to still meet those needs of people who are needing spiritual support, even if they are not within the walls of our hospital.”
Emotional and spiritual support is part of a wholistic healthcare approach, Roberts pointed out.
“We like to separate things out into nice, neat categories such as physical, mental, spiritual, but humans are complex and one thing impacts the other,” he said. “This (service) will, hopefully, be a component, and I think it has been, where people are able to get the support they need.”
Those who would prefer an in-person appointment or one-on-one visit with a chaplain may call the Chaplain Support Line at 254-724-1575.
Since its rollout in January, the Community Support wall has had thousands of visits. The first month, without promotion, BSW noted 30,000 visits. The wall has been averaging 15,000-20,000 visits a month since with an average time of five minutes per visit.
The posts vary and include prayer requests for health as well as other serious issues like someone facing an eviction. Responses are non-judgmental and supportive, which makes it a safe place, Roberts said.
“(The wall) helps people of faith and without faith because it offers them an outlet and a non-judgmental place where they can come to someone and say, ‘I’m dealing with this,’ and there’s a community, that’s an exceptional community, that hears it and supports them,” Roberts said. “As chaplains, when we respond, we provide support to people whatever faith or not.”