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Bibles are there for the asking

Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital Chaplaincy Department Chairperson Reverend Iris Carden
Bibles are, and always have been, readily available to patients at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital Chaplaincy Department Chairperson Reverend Iris Carden said a recent news item in the Sunday Mail about the availability Bibles in the Hospital was “regrettably inaccurate,” .

“The current system for making Bibles available to patients has been in place for about ten years, and has benefits for patients, chaplains and nursing staff,” she said.

“It’s not a response to multiculturalism or multi-faith sensibilities, but was in place long before multiculturalism became fashionable.”

Rather than having Bibles placed in all bedside cabinets in the hospital, Bibles were supplied to patients on request.

“The primary benefit for patients is choice,” Ms Carden said. “When a patient finds a Bible in the bedside cabinet, that’s the only choice available. Patients in the RBWH are able to choose from the New King James Version New Testaments supplied by Gideons International, or the complete Good News Bible supplied by the Bible Society.

“Younger patients tend to go for the Good News, because it has both Old and New Testaments, and is an easier translation to read. Older patients tend to choose the Gideons New Testaments because the print is larger, and the slightly more formal language appeals to them.”

A secondary benefit for patients was that Bibles were delivered by Chaplains who were then able to spend some time with the patients, and find out if they had any other Spiritual or emotional needs Chaplains could assist with.

The benefit of this system to nursing staff was a slight lightening of workload.

If Bibles were placed in bedside cabinets, they would need to be cleaned between patients, whether or not the patient had used the Bible. Under the RBWH system, Bibles were only issued to patients who intended to use them, and were then returned to the Chaplains for cleaning.

For Chaplains, the benefit of the system was in knowing easily when more Bibles were needed. Ms Carden said, “There’s always a percentage of Bibles which go home with patients.

“If the Bibles were in the bedside cabinets, all over the hospital, it would be hard for us to know when more were needed. As it is, all we have to do is look in the Bible cupboard to see when supplies are getting low.”

Ms Carden expressed gratitude to both Gideons International, and the Bible Society, for their ready supply of Bibles whenever the hospital chaplains requested them. “Their support is invaluable in our care of the patients,” she said.

Photo : Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital Chaplaincy Department Chairperson Reverend Iris Carden