Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital’s new interfaith chaplain is Abby Pollender. Pollender will assume the chaplaincy role effective January 1, 2012. An interfaith chaplain provides spiritual support in the hospital environment to patients, staff and family members of all religious faiths.
The chaplaincy program at NVRH plays a pivotal role in the hospital’s culture, as well as its relationship to the community. As Pollender says, “this program belongs to everyone; it’s meant to be inclusive, to honor differences, and offer support and comfort to those in need.”
Paul Bengtson, NVRH CEO, said of Pollender’s appointment, “Abby has already proven to be a tremendous asset to our community, and I believe that in her role as chaplain, she will expand the nurturing, caring environment on behalf of our patients and staff. Her strong faith and compassionate, genuine concern for all has already proven to be very beneficial.”
Pollender has worked at NVRH for 2 ½ years, first in a grant-funded position involving palliative care collaboration with local area hospitals in both Vermont and New Hampshire, and most recently as a Community Health Worker in the Community Connections program.
Pollender also serves on the NVRH Community Palliative Care Team and is a volunteer on the NVRH Family Support Team.
Pollender brings a wealth of life experience to her new role. Before settling in St. Johnsbury, she lived in Lancaster, NH where she was a reporter for the Coos County Democrat. Additionally, she wrote a weekly column for the paper titled” Life As I Know It” for ten years.
Pollender is certified in thanatology, which is the study of death and dying. She was a board member of Lancaster Hospice, as well as their Program Director in charge of the bereavement program and training hospice volunteers. She then worked as a Patient Care Coordinator for Weeks Medical Center’s hospice program. Pollender was also a member of the Weeks Family Support Team, assisting families in unexpected tragedies.
Pollender finds hospice work very life affirming. “There’s a difference between curing and healing, and I witness tremendous healing in hospice work,” said Pollender. “I am allowed to be a quiet, supportive presence in an important time in one’s life.”
Pollender is currently attending Dartmouth’s Clinical Pastoral Education program, which she will finish at the end of March.
Pollender resides in St. Johnsbury and attends the North Congregational Church, after being a member of The First Congregational UCC of Haverhill, NH. She has three daughters; Molly is a sophomore at Kenyon College in Ohio, and Ann and Kara are seniors at St. Johnsbury Academy.