ore than 5,000 babies begin their lives in Winthrop's New Life Center each year, providing the vast majority of their parents with happy endings to their pregnancies. Unlike fairy tales, however, in real life, not every ending can be happy.
Joan Guavera, MSW, Winthrop's first Pastoral Care Resident.
"The New Life Center is so wonderful," said Rev. Winfried Hess, Director of Pastoral Care and Education at Winthrop. "But we must recognize that pregnancy and birth can be connected to risk and loss, too."
The Pastoral Care Department has initiated an intensive program to help individuals and families in crisis due to high-risk pregnancies and birth-related traumas. Through the program, Clinical Pastoral Education Resident Joan Guevara will be at the Hospital on a full-time basis to provide spiritual counseling to families that have been affected by the birth of a severely premature infant, the birth of a child with abnormalities, a stillbirth, or the emotional turmoil of undergoing a high-risk
This innovative program also provides a link to
continuing, community-based counseling through the Lutheran Counseling Center in Mineola for families whose need for support extends beyond the period of hospitalization.
While the overwhelming majority of pregnancies end with healthy babies, a small number of women experience complications and, sometimes, loss. Winthrop's reputation as a center of excellence for
high-risk pregnancies, combined with its highly regarded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, make it a hospital of choice as well as a referral center for women from around the region who are designated as high risk.
Ms. Guevara's role will be to complement the professional services currently provided through Winthrop's Institute for Family Care. Psychosocial counseling is already provided by Margaret Fusco, CSW, a social worker assigned to maternity, as well as the Hospital's Perinatal Bereavement Team, led by MaryLynn Brassil, RN. The availability of a dedicated Chaplain to minister to these patients adds another dimension to the high
quality care they receive at Winthrop.
"The role of the chaplain is not to provide answers or solve problems," stated Rev. Hess. "Rather, it is to offer comfort to patients, sit with them, listen to them, pray with them, and go through rituals which are meaningful for them."
With a background in both social work and theology, Ms. Guevara is uniquely qualified to provide spiritual support as well as help patients connect with spiritual resources within their own communities. "She has a caring and compassionate way of being with patients," said Rev. Hess. "That, together with her background, make her an excellent person to start this project."
The program was launched with the help of a grant from the Wheat Ridge Ministries, a Lutheran organization which provides seed money to start new ministries, especially those involving healthcare. Roslyn Savings Bank provided an additional grant to help defray the expenses of outpatient counseling through the Lutheran Counseling Center.
For additional information about the program, please call Winthrop's Pastoral Care and Education Department at (516) 663-4749.