The Daily Reflector: There is sorrow at hospitals. People are in accidents or ill, and some pass away.
But there also is joy. Babies are born, wounds are healed.
Pitt County Memorial Hospital hopes to welcome people with that range of emotions in a new interfaith chapel early next year. Construction began on the facility last week, located just left of the main entrance.
Sara Davenport, a board member with the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation, led the project committee. She wants the chapel to be somewhere “anybody can come” to pray, meditate, find solitude or celebrate in their own way.
“There’s such diversity in the people that come here as patients and visitors as well as staff,” Davenport said.
The chapel is an extension of the hospital’s Pastoral Services Department. Their clergy visited 15,000 patients last year, as well as 24,000 family members and 22,000 hospital staffers.
“That shows you the importance of having a place to go,” Davenport said.
And the hospital does. A small interfaith chapel opened 32 years ago — funded by the Greenville Service League — inside the main entrance. The dark, windowless room is lit by menorahs and seats about 15 people.
“It’s tremendously small for the medical community we now have,” Davenport said. “This is not adequate at all.”
There are two additional meditation rooms at PCMH: One in the neonatal intensive care unit and another in the surgical wing. Each of them is not immediately visible to someone in need.
The new facility will encompass all of that. The 5,300 square foot extension will house an assembly room seating between 75 and 100 people on collapsible chairs. There will be lots of natural light, Davenport said, in addition to six stained glass windows, a pond with a fountain and a small garden dotted with benches. There also will be smaller meditation rooms and a closet space for religious materials.
The majority of funds are in place to make the project possible, with donations totaling $1.6 million. Davenport said they are still short between $600,000 and $700,000, so community members can still contribute.
“We think we’ve done extremely well considering economic conditions,” she said. “This chapel is not being built by the hospital. It’s being built by private donations. It really is the peoples’ chapel.”
Anyone donating $100 or more will be recognized with a plaque inside.
The chapel should be completed in six months, Davenport said, barring long periods of bad weather. There will be a ceremony to celebrate its opening upon completion of the construction.