Chapel Initiative Aims to Offer a Sacred Space at NLFMC

February 24, 2012

Chapel scheduled to be completed this spring

When a family faces difficult moments and decisions to be made at New London Family Medical Center (NLFMC), there are few options available for privacy: a corner in a waiting room, a hallway, the patient’s hospital room, the cafeteria.

Usually waiting areas and rooms don’t provide the focus needed to reflect and pray, said Reverend KC Schuler, the pastoral care supervisor for ThedaCare’s hospitals. “It’s not the same thing as feeling that you’re in a space dedicated to do that,” he said.

An effort has been launched to create a new chapel at NLFMC.

“The real benefit is providing a respectful place for families during difficult times or for moments when they just want to take a moment to reflect,” said Deborah Johnson, executive director of The Wolf River Area Healthcare Foundation.

The chapel will meet the hospital’s need for a calming, private place for family members, friends and patients to reflect, pray and grieve. It will also provide a comforting space for sensitive conversations between medical staff and family members.

Johnson said many groups have offered input on the project: NLFMC healthcare providers and staff; local clergy; and community and NLFMC Auxiliary members.

“This opportunity came to us through the voices of many different people,” she said, noting that many felt the chapel was “really something we needed to do better in helping families through a difficult time.” 

Rev. Schuler said the new chapel will be beneficial to NLFMC. “The fact that the volunteers, Auxiliary and Foundation have taken the steps towards this, it’s huge,” he said. “It’s a big benefit to them.”

Current plans place the chapel just down the hall from the emergency department. This location will offer those dealing with emergencies a nearby refuge so they can soothe their spirits while staying close at hand.

Staff and doctors also said they would benefit personally from a chapel on campus, said Johnson. 

“They too would welcome a space where they could go for a minute or two to collect their thoughts in a private space,” she said. 

Schuler said local clergy look forward to the chapel. “From our vantage point, it’s a large part of delivering and providing spiritual care in the healthcare setting,” he said.

Construction should begin within the next 30-60 days, with completion estimated near late spring. A local artisan is creating a one-of-a-kind sculpture for the space.

The Foundation hopes to draw funds for the chapel project from this year’s 1,000 Friends campaign, with a goal of raising $100,000.

“When the community sees a need like this one, we put all our energy and resources into meeting it,” Johnson said.

To make a donation to support the project, contact the Foundation office at (920) 531-2221.