Thrive by IU Health

September 14, 2023

Chaplain helps connect patients to community

Chaplain helps connect patients to community

Patients remain connected to IU Health long after they go home thanks to Congregational Care Network.

By TJ Banes, Senior Journalist, IU Health,

On a day when Ella Propes was preparing to be discharged from IU Health, she received a visit from Chaplain Marilyn Gill. It was a visit that not only checked on Propes’ wellbeing in the hospital, but also introduced her to continued care outside the hospital.

To help bridge the gap between hospital and home, IU Health initiated a program called, “Congregational Care Network” (CCN). More than two dozen congregations in Marion and Monroe Counties have trained volunteers to visit patients after they have been discharged from the hospital. Through regular contact, the volunteers provide a social aspect that may otherwise be missing from patients’ daily lives.

Propes was Kirst admitted to IU Health University Hospital in June. She’s been married to her husband for 50 years and has two adult children, Kive grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She said her health issues along with her husband’s health issues make it challenging to continue her normally active lifestyle.

She loves to cook and for 41 years served as a cook for IU Health University and Riley Hospitals. “People used to love our deep fried chicken and baked cheesy bread,” said Propes. She remembers transporting food between the hospitals through a connecting tunnel.

As she shares her connection with IU Health, Propes also shares her appreciation for a visit by Chaplain Gill.

“Sometimes this is the only company some patients receive. It’s nice to know they stop by with a friendly face,” said Propes.

Gill completed her Clinical Pastoral Education in 2013 and joined IU Health last year. As a chaplain with the Congregational Care Network, Gill’s emphasis is on reaching out to patients that may face isolation in the hospital and at home.

She begins her conversation with Propes by introducing herself and telling her about the Congregational Care Network. Initially formed as a response to those in the community who were cut off from support systems due to COVID-19, the Congregational Care Network has grown in the past two years. Parish volunteers are specially trained to reach out to patients once they return home from the hospital.

“Seeing patients smile and their gratification is such a blessing,” said Gill. “It’s so important to let them know they are not on this journey to recovery alone.”