Hospital seeks spiritual care volunteers |

Hospital seeks spiritual care volunteers

By Liz Kellar

Staff writer

It takes a very special person to volunteer their time in a hospital setting. Walking into a stranger’s room who might be in pain, or dying, and listening to their concerns and worries with compassion and openness takes what David Swetman, the spiritual care services manager at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, calls a big heart.

“It’s not something that everyone can do,” he said. “But if you have that service need, if you have that calling, it’s a way to scratch that itch.”

Swetman currently is seeking loving, compassionate people to take on four-hour volunteer shifts at the hospital. Volunteer training for the positions begins Tuesday evening and runs through May 4. Potential volunteers must be interviewed by Swetman before attending the mandatory training, but he is allowing new registrants until the second week.

The hospital has maintained a chaplaincy program since 1998, but has renamed the program Spiritual Care Services to reflect a holistic approach to healing. The goal is to make contact with every patient at least once; last year, Swetman and his crew of 18 volunteers made more than 5,400 patient visits.

So what kind of people is Swetman looking for?

“The biggest thing is to find someone who is on their own spiritual path – a seeker,” he said. “People who are growing have different life forces than people who are stagnant. I’m looking for someone who is excited about their life, because that’s the energy that people feel.”

Classes are from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and will focus on hospital requirements and patient interaction skills. All volunteers will be asked to commit to one four-hour shift a week and stay on the team for one year.

To schedule an interview, call Swetman at 247-6216 or e-mail

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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