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EPAS impacts hospital chaplaincy


South Australian Catholics and members of other religious denominations are being alerted to changes to the way chaplains and their teams visit people in public hospitals in South Australia.

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Chaplaincy Services SA has prepared information for churches to distribute to parishioners following the introduction of a new computer based system known as EPAS (Enterprise Patient Administration System).

EPAS will be used at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital when it opens in September and is being introduced to Flinders Medical Centre. It is already in operation at the Repatriation General Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Chaplaincy Services SA executive officer Craig Bossie said in the past, chaplains and their teams would visit patients based on a list that was printed according to the faith tradition recorded at the time of admission. With the introduction of EPAS, these particular lists that provide denominational and faith related information would will no longer be available.

“Patients will need to be more proactive so we are offering suggestions of how they can make their needs known,” Mr Bossie said.

“It’s an opt in approach now so all church groups are encouraging their members to make their needs known.”

Mr Bossies said there were several ways a patient or family could request a chaplain visit while they were in hospital.

On admission they could ask for their faith tradition to be recorded electronically in their computer patient record and could also ask the hospital staff for what EPAS calls a ‘clergy visit’, which alerts the hospital chaplains to the patient’s request.

Alternatively, at any time during their hospital stay the patient, or their family, could ask the nurses to request a pastoral visit which EPAS calls a ‘spiritual care consult’. Mr Bossie urged people to be persistent in their request: “Hospitals are busy and complex places and in many hospitals chaplains are only employed part time.”

Another option was for patients, family members or clergy to contact a chaplain directly by ringing the switchboard of the hospital and asking to be connected by pager or phone.

“Through EPAS, spiritual and pastoral care is still available for everyone, irrespective of what denomination, faith tradition or belief system is important to you,” Mr Bossie said.

A chaplain is also on call in every metropolitan public hospital 24 hours a day, including after hours, in case of emergencies.


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