ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Dr. Marie Whiteside has worked in hospitals for decades. She trained as a neurodevelopmental pediatrician to get ready for the first 35. However, her work at Swedish Medical Center the last couple of years is the result of a posting in a church bulletin near the start of the pandemic.
“That said, 'If you have compassion, we could cherish you in our chaplaincy department,' which is how I became a hospital chaplain,” Dr. Whiteside recalls.
Dr. Whiteside didn’t have any training in divinity that she brought to her new volunteer gig. Instead, she brings a strong desire to help patients and their families through stressful times.
“I have learned to use what people talk about all the time, this sense of active listening, to give them a chance to tell me their stories,” Dr. Whiteside says. “I am definitely a wiser person than I was two years ago.”
Patients at the hospital are not the only ones at the hospital that Dr. Whiteside lends her ear too. Hospital staff say Dr. Whiteside and the hospitals other chaplains all supply a safe place where people can come together and feel supported.
“I think after COVID, we saw a lot of compassion, fatigue,” says Lauren Branigan, manager of Swedish’s orthopedic and spine department. “Nurses have been pushed to their limits physicians and seen it all.”
That’s why hospital chaplains like Dr. Whiteside are so important to everyone who steps foot in the hospital.
“I think she is calm and passionate and the kinds of things that you really look for in someone who you would deem a hero.”
- To learn about volunteer opportunties at Swedish Medical Center & other HealthOne hospitals, click here
Dr. Whiteside says she finds her own calm while enjoying Colorado’s outdoor opportunities, working in her garden, or just hanging out with her family. She also doesn’t think she will be giving up on hospital life any time soon.
“I really try to limit my schedule so that when I do come in, I can bring in some exuberance and some enthusiasm,” Dr. Whiteside says. “So, for the foreseeable future, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to be here at Swedish.”
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