Chaplain: Eileen Flenner
Eileen Flenner's Story
Eileen Flenner, a chaplain at Hospice of Washington County, provides emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families at a difficult time.
"It can be very sad with a loved one nearing the end of life, and families might seem overwhelmed. A chaplain brings that calming presence, just listens to whatever might be on their minds and helps them through this journey," Eileen says.
As a hospice chaplain, Eileen enjoys listening to patients tell their stories. She communicates with nurses, social workers and CNAs to provide the best possible physical, spiritual and emotional care for the patients and families.
For many, this involves strengthening their relationship with God. "They might have been away from God for a while and especially with Covid, they weren't able to go to their churches," Eileen explains. "They thought that they were on the inactive list, so to speak, because they haven't attended for such a long time, but I help them get reconnected to their church."
She affirms whatever spiritual beliefs they have. "One of the first impressions people have of a chaplain is that they want to force religion onto them and that is far from what a chaplain does,"she says. "I can't give them what I believe. I need to be ready for whatever faith they may have to draw resources to help them."
Becoming a chaplain
Before becoming a chaplain, Eileen worked in customer service at a bank. Eileen pursued work as a chaplain after a friend recommended a course at Meritus Medical Center. "I didn't have to work at it, it just naturally flowed from me to visit patients and listen to the families," says Eileen. "I'm fulfilling the calling that God has put in front of me and it's just very gratifying and very satisfying that I'm doing what God wants me to do."
Eileen went on to get a degree in Religion and Christian Counseling and then a Masters of Divinity, which she believes has greatly enhanced her work as a chaplain. Additionally, completing her education in Clinical Pastoral Education has helped Eileen relate to and identify with her patients on a deeper level.
Family and hobbies
Eileen grew up in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and she still lives in this area today. She is happily married to her husband of 43 years, whom she met in high school. The couple have two daughters and four grandchildren, three girls and a boy. They all live close by.
In her free time, Eileen enjoys singing with her husband in their community choir. "Any chance we get, we sing at different churches. Generally during the summer, when they don't have their choirs going, then they'll ask guest soloists to come in. I've done that for lots of years."