In 1972, there was a deadly shooting at North Hills Mall where a sniper opened fire, killed three people, and wounded eight others. During this incident, it became apparent that although WakeMed had the skills to clinically treat patients, we did not have the resources to help families and their loved ones through crisis.
In 1973, we hired our first Chaplain to provide support and resources for patients and their loved ones as well as staff who were hurting. He set to work organizing a group of area clergy volunteers and also began working toward a formal Clinical Pastoral Education program to respond to the needs at the hospital.
As Wake County grew, the demands on community spiritual leaders prevented them from having time available to also cover call at the hospital. The answer was found in growing the Clinical Pastoral Education program, offering education to enhance effective interfaith spiritual care. The first unit of students joined WakeMed in 1975 and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the program, which is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.
Today, the Spiritual Care Department includes four Chaplains who are certified Clinical Pastoral Educators and supervise residents and interns throughout the year. To date, more than 720 students have trained at WakeMed. Together, the WakeMed Clinical Pastoral Education students provide spiritual care to participants in many of the organizations serving the under-served in Wake County. These interfaith interns and residents cover the Raleigh WakeMed Campus and also provide chaplain services for Urban Ministries, Interact, Helen Wright Center for Women, Saint Saviour’s and the Men’s Shelter.
It takes a special person with special training to provide strength and comfort to people experiencing extremely difficult crisis situations, and our entire community is blessed to have such strong interfaith spiritual care resources at WakeMed that had more than 66,000 patient, family and staff contacts just last year.