Children’s of Alabama is a world-class, not for profit, pediatric medical center in the heart of Birmingham.
For many years, the hospital relied on the faith leaders in the community to provide pastoral care for patients and families. In the late 1980s, Children’s hired its first staff chaplain. Today, the Pastoral Care Department’s 12 chaplains, led by Director of Pastoral Care Rev. Herb Robertson, a United Methodist clergy member of the North Alabama Conference, provide 24/7 coverage. Pastoral Care Services provided by Children’s of Alabama chaplains include the following:
Pastoral Care services are not reimbursable through health insurance, therefore Children's must rely on community support to provide this level of care for their young patients. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress and intensified the need for emotional support at Children`s. Visitation restrictions have meant that patients and families were not able to have their faith leaders at the bedside except for end-of-life care. Additionally, COVID-19 has brought about innumerable physical, emotional and financial needs that continue to affect a family’s ability to heal.
Children's of Alabama is committed to continuing to provide unwavering pastoral care during times of crisis and to help families navigate uncertainty. To mark this commitment, they have announced a campaign set for October 2021, Clergy Appreciation Month, to raise $50,000 for the work of Children's Pastoral Care department. They are inviting individuals and congregations seeking outreach projects to join them in reaching this goal.
Resources are available for churches who wish to participate to use in bulletins, newsletters, social media platforms and email. Members of the Pastoral Staff are also available to speak (live or on video) to congregations and tell the story of their work.
For more information download the campaign brochure. Congregations who wish to participate are encouraged to request information and resources soon in order to best prepare to participate in the October campaign.
In addition to the daily work of spiritually guiding and sustaining patients and families, the Pastoral Care team at Children’s provides care through two donor-supported programs:
Telling a hospitalized child that God loves her/him is one thing; giving a child a tangible expression of God’s love is quite another. Simon the Loving Lion is just that—a squeezable and huggable sign of God’s love. In January 1999, the chaplains at Children’s of Alabama began giving a stuffed animal named Simon to children admitted through the hospital’s trauma service. Over time, and with the help of generous donors, Simon’s work has expanded to include all patient care areas at Children’s of Alabama.
Through the Partnership in Caring program, the Pastoral Care team is able to extend Family-Centered Care beyond our hospital doors to serve patient families who experience the death of a child.
When a patient passes, families often encounter a significant financial burden in addition to immense emotional distress. Approximately 65% of the patients cared for at Children’s of Alabama receive Medicaid benefits, an indication that the family is financially strained. Since 1996, Partnership in Caring has provided financial assistance and/or a gravesite to qualifying families at Children’s. Approximately half of the families who experience the death of a child receive assistance at an average of about $1,200 per family. Partnership in Caring has time and time again, “made a way where there was no way” when families are faced with these trying circumstances.
Children’s of Alabama was established as Holy Innocents Hospital for Children in 1911. Initially operated by the Episcopal Church, the first patients were cared for in the All Saints Parish House on the southside of Birmingham. Though it is no longer a faith-based healthcare institution, Children’s of Alabama remains committed to the spiritual care of its patients and families.
For more information and to request resources for the Clergy Appreciation Month campaign contact Director of Grantor and Donor Relations Michelle Littleton at Michelle.email@example.com or 205-638-6241.