NEWPORT — In the four years that Avril Cochran has worked at North Country Hospital, she has been advocating for a more robust chaplaincy program, having come from Copley Hospital, where they have a full-time chaplain.
Her predecessor, Sheryl Washburn Carter, started the program, to include growing the number of on-call chaplains visiting North Country as needed.
“In nursing school, we learn that the spiritual care of patients is an important part of their care, and having access to chaplains is crucial,” Cochran, who is the Vice President for Patient Care Services, said.”
Michel “Mickey” Richards is fulfilling her six-month internship through the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center chaplaincy program.
“We are thrilled that Mickey wanted to complete this part of her education close to home. She lives in West Glover, Cochran added.”
Richards and her family have always been connected to a church. She grew up in East Burke, and recalls her calling came long ago when at a senior youth group meeting, the pastor’s wife told her, “I can so see you being a minister’s wife someday.”
“Why not the minister?” she replied.
With many years of experience in positions requiring “people skills,” and with her husband’s support, Richards completed seminary in 2015 and has her Master’s in Pastoral Ministry.
The internship is clinical/pastoral administration and she is following this path for board certification. She also likes the idea of being a minister in the workplace.
Most recently, she worked in a variety of social worker, operational and administrative positions at Maple Lane Nursing Home and the NEK Council on Aging.
While at North Country over the upcoming months, her focus will be on patient visitations and family services and has a great interest in staff care ministry.
She is already busy building relationships on the floors and is open to a conversation at any time. She is reviewing the chaplaincy program handbook and policies and is already part of the process for new on-call chaplains applying here.
“What I like best is working in partnership with staff to be that additional connection with the patients,” Richards said. “A visit may be spiritual, pastoral, or I may just be another set of ears, who has the additional time to listen.”