The changing face of spiritual care: current developments in telechaplaincy.
In recent years, and particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, tele- health has been rapidly introduced into U.S. healthcare institutions. While preliminary data and best practices are beginning to emerge, it remains unclear how chaplains are responding to this develop- ment in practice. Consequently, professional organizations have tended to lag behind the changing demands of increasingly digital professional environments. This article addresses this gap by present- ing three case studies of U.S. healthcare settings where chaplains have become an integral component of telehealth infrastructure: the Mercy system, Ascension Health, and the Veteran’s Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Based on interviews with chaplains and directors of chaplaincy departments, it shows how the ‘telechaplains’ at these institutions have adapted to the introduction of telehealth across the continuum of care, and dis- cusses the legal, economic, practical and theological challenges and hopes reported in each case.