A faith leader in Kentville, N.S., is raising questions after the Valley Regional Hospital closed its chapel permanently without any immediate plans to replace it.
“I was quite surprised,” said Rev. John Campbell, an ordained minister for the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada.
“The chapel there was a very valuable space, the space that’s open to people of all faith [and] no faith. It’s a quiet, peaceful place within a very busy hospital environment.”
A spokesperson for Nova Scotia Health said in an email the chapel closed to make room for training equipment. Brendan Elliott said the chapel is one of the only spaces available that is big enough for it.
He said the hospital, in collaboration with Nova Scotia Health, has invested in “training equipment to support a modernized approach to interprofessional health-care education.”
He said the former chapel space was “one of the only options that did not impact delivery of clinical services.”
New spiritual space coming, but unclear when
Elliott said spiritual care for patients and families is important, too. He said the hospital is “readying a new, dedicated wellness and spirituality space on site for patients, families and for the health-care team.”
He said there is no timeline “but we expect this space will be ready soon.”
Campbell said he only recently became aware of the closure after others in the community expressed concern.
He heard last week the chapel was closed permanently. He said there was no communication about the closure either.
“There was no speaking to clergies or churches anywhere within the [Annapolis] Valley that I am aware of,” he said. [It] seemed like a very strange thing.”
A post he made on Facebook about it last week was shared more than 300 times.
“I’ve just been inundated with comments from people who are shocked and saddened as well … people recalling stories of the time that they’ve spent in the chapel,” he said.
Campbell said the training equipment hasn’t arrived and the space is still empty. He said people should be able to use the room until it comes.
The furnishings should be put back in the room, too, he said. He said they were purchased with funds raised in the community.
Elliott said some items that were in the former chapel have been put into storage.
“It has never been our intent to discard these items,” Elliott said. “We will meet with our spiritual co-ordinator on the handling of these items.”
Campbell says he has an upcoming meeting with someone from health services to discuss the chapel situation.
“Let’s find a solution … together,” he said. “Doing something like this under the radar and trying to let it slip by, it’s not the appropriate way to do this.”