Northern Light Eastern Maine Maine Medical Center welcomes new chaplain

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center went a year without a full chaplaincy program, which caused some concerns among patients and staff.

Now, the hospital is welcoming a new full-time head chaplain with years of experience under his belt.

"It's a great time to be here. I think that I'm building, or have opportunity to build on a legacy that has already been pretty well established."

It's only been a month, but Dr. Bernard Richardson is providing hope and meaning inside Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Following a nationwide search, the hospital chose Richardson as the new head chaplain and director of Chaplain Services.

His main role will be to oversee the spiritual care of staff, patients, and their families.

"My ultimate goal is to be available to their spiritual needs, whatever that might be," said Richardson. "Whether it is something in particular that is religious or just helping come alongside them in their most vulnerable time."

In his most recent position, Richardson served as the senior chaplain at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

There he oversaw the Clinical Pastoral Education program...a journey he plans to lead the Medical Center on as well.

"With Dr. Richardson here, we will be becoming accredited through the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education," explained Donna Russell-Cook, President of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. "He will be out in the community. He will be out in our physical plant. He will be talking to patients and family and to our staff, and with that he will help us build the program that meets the needs of everyone that should need it."

In addition to providing needed support, the CPE program will allow students to act as chaplains-in-training, while being available to hospital staff and patients as well.

The process to become accredited has begun, and he says he hopes to evolve the chaplaincy program to the best of his abilities.