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NMCCL Stories

News | April 27, 2023

We are NMCCL – Meet the Pastoral Care Team

By Michelle Cornell

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune’s Pastoral Care Team serves the medical community in a variety of ways; from religious services, pastoral counseling and raising donations for persons in need, their services are available 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year.

“The key to chaplaincy is relationships,” said Reverend Charles Quarles, pastoral counselor for NMCCL. “As a chaplain, we are trained to be there for people in the moment. We have a unique place in the medical environment. We exist to be present for anyone who comes in the door – we support everyone.”

The Pastoral Care team includes one active-duty chaplain, one civilian pastoral counselor and two active-duty religious program specialists. The team supports the main Medical Center and the 16 outlying clinics and offices aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. All beneficiaries, visitors, civilian and active-duty staff can receive support and use the facilities.

The Pastoral Care team provides religious services every Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.in the NMCCL Chapel located in the medical center. When not being used for religious services, the chapel is always available to anyone needing a quiet place for prayer or reflection.

Although religion is an important function of the department, religion makes up 10% of Pastoral Care’s daily responsibilities. Marriage, family, and grief counseling services are available. Chaplains conduct daily visitations to all in-patient wards including the Intensive Care and Mother-Baby Units.

“Chaplaincy in the hospital is different than you would find in other places,” said U.S. Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Mark Cannon. “We care for the patient, but in the midst we have to be active and make sure people on the medical team are ok too.”

Chaplains are often a part of the medical treatment team at NMCCL and may help determine a patient’s course of treatment.

“In order to provide a holistic approach to medicine, which incorporates biological, sociological, psychological and spiritual approach, you need support from all those departments,” said Quarles. “We help facilitate the religious and spiritual needs of the patient and incorporate that into the treatment plan.”

According to Cannon, clinical chaplaincy requires specific training and is based on “action and reflection” type practices to handle the immediate need. Chaplains at NMCCL are also certified in the Resolve for Sharing program. The program is designed specifically to help prepare health care professionals to handle supporting a family experiencing loss.

“There are three parts to the RTS program that we focus on,” said Cannon. “One, we provide training to nurses, corpsmen, and other staff. We prepare them to help grieving families. Two, we get called to work with the families and staff in the room during a medical situation dealing with loss. Then, we also provide continued grief counseling for the family and staff if needed for up to a year.”

Every October, the team hosts a “Wave of Light” event in recognition of International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. NMCCL families who have lost a baby are invited to attend a special service at the Medical Center.

“I don’t try to get into heavy, long-term counseling during an emergent situation,” says Quarles. “What do they need right now? They need to feel like they are in control- whether that be: comfort, resources, medicine- it’s listening to their needs. We stand with the family so the doctors and nurses can take care of the patient.”

Upcoming, long-term projects for the department are holiday donation programs. Each November and December, the team raises donations to support the Thanksgiving Food Basket Program and the Angel Tree Program. They will begin accepting donations for the two programs in October of this year. Last year, the Pastoral Care team gathered more than 75 food baskets and 150 toys to help families in need.

The NMCCL Chapel is located on the first floor of the Medical Center. If you are a patient or staff and would like to speak to a chaplain, call 910-450-4070. The team is available Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. After hours, the duty chaplain can be reached by calling the Communications Office at 910-450-4910. All information shared with Pastoral Care is confidential.

The “We are NMCCL” initiative highlights the accomplishments of employees, clinics, and offices of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.
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