• A Lifetime of Ministry One Journey at a Time

    December 3, 2019 | Blog
  • Paradigm Health Hospice Chaplain Bob Barge is with patients and families during hospice care and beyond.


    Robert Barge, Hospice Chaplain

    Robert Barge, Hospice Chaplain

    In reflection, current Paradigm Health Hospice Chaplain Bob Barge says he didn’t realize it at the time, but hospice care would have been a better healthcare option for his grandmother during her end-of-life journey.

    “I was making regular trips back and forth to the hospital to see my grandmother and just wasn’t aware of hospice care options at that time,” shares Barge. “Today, I know that hospice care would have been a better alternative for my grandmother and for her caregivers. After she passed, I had the opportunity to work in hospice chaplaincy and began working as a volunteer leading bible studies in nursing facilities and realized this was something I wanted to be involved with every day. It was a natural progression in my career.”

    Barge holds a Master of Divinity degree and has been in vocational ministry for nearly 30 years. After working as a hospital chaplain for many years, Barge realized that he was searching for a consistency in caring for patients and their families in a more ongoing way than the transient services he provided in a hospital setting. “I knew that I wanted to establish a connection and forge a relationship with patients and their families. A friend suggested that there was an opening at Paradigm Health and once I met with the leadership staff I was impressed by their culture.”

    As a Central Indiana local hospice provider, Barge says Paradigm Health is invested in their staff, the community, patients and their families and the family-type atmosphere was exactly the type of company he wanted to work for.

    “A local-based company was something I was looking for,” says Barge. “Recently, the leadership team took the chaplain and bereavement team out to breakfast to engage with us and to make sure we were feeling supported and had the tools we needed to minister to others. There aren’t very many businesses in the healthcare industry that invite you to sit down and take the time to talk with you about you and your needs. It is refreshing.”

    That type of care and value for staff translates to better care out in the field. In addition to caring and serving patients and their families through basic chaplain services, Barge is also in charge of bereavement follow-up with families who have gone through the hospice care journey with Paradigm Health. He stays in touch with families who have lost a loved one to provide an extended support system for up to 13 months after their loss. “I check up on the family often through phone calls and meetings and I often can help direct them to resources that they may still need. We establish a relationship with the family as well as the patient and we want to offer assistance to them as they move through the grief process. We want to stay connected and we know that first year after a loss can be tough to navigate.”

    Through bereavement care, Paradigm Health can help people establish benchmarks as to where they are and help them navigate through grief at their own pace. By staying in contact with those immersed in the grief process, identifying those that may not be progressing or are in need of extra support is easier. “Sometimes, an outside support system can spot needs that a family who is struggling together may not see. We can help facilitate resources to begin the healing process and keep it moving in a positive direction.”

    Meeting hospice patients and their families wherever they are in their spiritual journey is always a priority for Barge. After being in ministry for many years, he places a high value on spiritual support and is committed to serving the varied needs of all he’s called upon to offer care for.

    As part of Barge’s bereavement care for families, he oversees a Celebration of Life hosted by Paradigm Health staff and leadership. The celebration is held twice a year for families and honors the lives of their loved ones in a special ceremony with readings, music, a rose ceremony and time to share with each other.

    “Paradigm Health is a special place,” Barge shares. “They are as committed as I am to provide the best spiritual support no matter what the needs of the patient and family are. They are just as committed to my wellbeing and letting me know I am a valued part of the Paradigm Health team. I think that translates every day to the ministry I am sent out to do.”