MSHA hospitals to observe National Day of Prayer

By Julie Fann
star staff

Mountain States Health Alliance hospitals will be holding prayer services Thursday to recognize the National Day of Prayer. MSHA's Department of Pastoral Care coordinated the meetings, which will last approximately 10 to 12 minutes around noon.
   "I think it's a wonderful way for people of faith to come together, especially health care providers in the community, to be a spiritual resource for our patients," said Deborah Eller-Nichols, who works in the department and helps coordinate the event. Eller-Nichols said MSHA wants individuals from area communities to be involved so that there is a sense of ownership and belonging.
   Sycamore Shoals Hospital will hold its prayer service in the chapel at noon Thursday and again at 12:30 p.m. with the Rev. Ron Owens, volunteer chaplain and pastor of Grace Baptist Church. Owens said this is his first year to offer his time to the hospital and that he is excited about helping with the National Day of Prayer.
   "I think it's something our nation, our state, the city of Elizabethton and Sycamore Shoals Hospital need during these trying times. We're able to offer prayer not only for our patients and their families, but for anyone who needs prayer," Owens said.
   The Department of Pastoral Care for MSHA provides a service to the families of patients by asking area pastors to volunteer their time at hospitals. Volunteer chaplains encounter a range of spiritual needs that are just as diverse as the physical problems patients experience.
   Since its inception in 1998, Mountain States Health Alliance has observed the National Day of Prayer. Sycamore Shoals CEO Scott Williams said that he will try to attend this year's service but that his administrative duties often prevent him from it. "I think it's important, as I've said before, that we address spiritual needs as well as physical needs here at the hospital. I think the pastor will be taking prayer requests tomorrow. I think it's a special way for us to show our concern for our patients and their families," he said.