Banner Boswell Medical Center reopened its chapel this week, just in time for Ash Wednesday.
The newly remodeled space, now a non-denominational meditation chapel, offers both patients and their families a quiet space to think and escape the busy hospital atmosphere.
Chaplain Larry Weidner, the director of Spiritual Care, said that the remodel is more inclusive to all religions. Instead of pews, the room now contains individual chairs, and the art is not specific to one religion, but a trio of paintings on one wall incorporates symbols from all faiths.
“As a hospital, we minister to anyone that comes here,” Weidner said.
Weidner pointed out that when the remodel was first proposed, he heard some complaints from people about the switch to a nondenominational, rather than Christian, chapel, but he thought it was important to be welcoming to all religions.
Loretta Tropea, a hospital volunteer from Peoria, said the room looked completely different when she stopped in to receive her ashes Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s very nice,” Tropea said. “They did a nice job.”
The chapel also includes a new water feature just inside the door on a newly constructed wall, which blocks out noise from the busy lobby, where the room is located, giving visitors more privacy.
“It’s an environment that is quiet and peaceful and comfortable,” Weidner said, adding that the new design is more accommodating if a family wants a private session with him.
Chapel visitors can check out a library of more than 40 pamphlets on various supportive topics that Weidner said he has already seen circulating throughout the hospital in the hands of patients and families. There is also a special ‘faith box’ where handwritten requests for prayers can be placed for daily prayer by the chaplain.