South Peninsula Hospital might have modern patient rooms, a birthing center, a Long Term Care home, state-of-the art radiology and imaging equipment, and a medevac helicopter pad, but until now it lacked a facility that might seem essential for healing — a quiet place to sit, meditate or pray.
That changed last month when the hospital dedicated the Reflection Room, a small room across the hall from the cafeteria on the lower level.
Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the South Peninsula Foundation, using funds bequeathed to it from the late Leo Rhode, visitors, residents and staff now have a somber place to get away for a moment.
“Somewhere there’s just no where to be,” said SPH communications director Derotha Ferraro. “It’s nice to escape the environment and not get in your car and leave.”
An open house for the Reflection Room will be from noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 8.
The Reflection Room is not a church, though it has the peace and quiet of a chapel.
“It’s there to allow anyone to express their beliefs, their values in a confidential, safe setting,” Ferraro said. “It’s a place to reflect, contemplate, pray or sit quietly, to gather your thoughts. It’s a place for spiritual or emotional support.”
Remodeled from the old hospital records room, the space has several wooden seats facing a wall with stained glass art by Linda Vizenor. The glass is backlit by lights. Two ceramic vases by artist Paul Dungan hold an arrangement of flowers from Forget Me Not. Lamp sconces provide indirect lighting. SPH Auxiliary secretary Jan Goehringer designed the room and selected the seat upholstery fabric and paint colors in muted greens — subtle but important details that give the Reflection Room its sense of serenity.
“People of faith or no faith can have a moment or two away from the clatter of the hospital,” said hospital chaplain Bob Redmond.
Ferraro credited Redmond with instigating the project.
“There’s always been a spoken and unspoken need for a place, a quiet place and room,” she said. “Bob Redmond brought it to the top of the priority list.”
Redmond, a semi-retired Baptist minister, used to be a truck driving minister going by the handle “Preacher Bob.” He and his wife Linda moved to Homer in 2009.
Initially he volunteered as the hospital’s chaplain and now receives a small stipend in the summers for his work. In the winter he works as a bus driver for Homer Head Start.
“In the summers I’m in end-of-life and crisis, and in the winter I’m in beginning-of-life and crisis,” he said.
Redmond also drives the bus for Long Term Care residents and calls bingo there on Thursday nights. He also performs with his marionette, Thunder.
As hospital chaplain, Redmond visits patients, offering nondenominational counseling. Patients can request spiritual counseling, and the hospital or Redmond will contact local ministers if a particular church is preferred. Sometimes a patient will ask through a nurse or social worker for a visit. If a patient in the hospital is in crisis, for example someone going into cardiac arrest, Redmond is there for the family.
“My biggest gift is I’m a compassionate listener,” Redmond said. “I’m just there to be with them when they walk through crisis. It’s just a privilege. I call it ‘sacred ground.’”
The SPH Foundation was able to fund the Reflection Room thanks to a bequest from the late Leo Rhode, a former Homer mayor, city council member and Alaska Legislator. Rhode died in November 2002 at the age of 94. He worked for Homer Electric Association and served on the HEA Board of Directors and the SPH Board of Directors. When he died, he created a bequest that distributes funds on a rotating basis to local nonprofits. The funds came to the SPH Foundation at just the right time and from someone involved with the hospital in his community service, Ferraro said.
“That was a really nice coincidence that it worked that way,” she said. “He was just a big part of Homer’s history and to have that memory was fabulous.”
The Reflection Room is open at all hours. If the room is dark, a light switch panel is just to the right of the door. People who need privacy can put a door hanger that says “privacy requested,” but otherwise the room is open to be shared. Redmond is on call 24 hours for chaplain services if needed.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.