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Teaching Others to Serve

There is a champion of compassion working at Beebe’s Medical Center in downtown Lewes. He doesn't wear a cape; instead he wears a name badge. He is the Rev. Keith Goheen.

Keith has been the chaplain at Beebe for 12 years. He graduated from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass. He served congregations in Massachusetts and Delaware prior to entering chaplaincy. Keith is board-certified in chaplaincy and a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains. Outside of the hospital, he is “Grampy,” and actively involved in the lives of his grandchildren.

Like other hospital team members, professional chaplains provide patient-centered care. They seek to understand and work within the patient’s religious and spiritual world-views. Chaplains offer spiritual counsel and often provide support to those who are struggling with meaning or purpose in their lives. Sometimes, they are friendly listeners and bring comfort in response to grief and loss. Keith is a spiritual person, of course, but it turns out he is much more.

We were contacted by Jane Smith, who was eager to express her sincere gratitude about so many positive experiences with Chaplain Keith and to nominate him for the Celebrate Excellent Care program. Jane was not a patient at the hospital, as is the normal situation of people contacting the foundation. She is one of several who are participating in a community-based Clinical Pastoral Education program sponsored by the United Methodist Church. CPE opens the doors for pastoral care and understanding oneself. "It was Keith who taught me the hands-on skills and self-awareness to have the confidence to walk through the doors," Jane proclaims. "Keith helped me to accept and respect others' beliefs and faith regardless of my own."

The Clinical Pastoral Program is an intense one. It includes 300 hours of clinical time and 100 hours in the classroom. Participants meet once a week to discuss personal and professional topics with peers. Each student is responsible for developing personal, pastoral, and professional goals.

“Keith was instrumental,” Jane explains. His clinical supervision is what guided her through coming to know how to help others at serious emotional times in their lives. Jane explains that under Keith's direction she explored how to respond to emotional traits in her own life. He taught her how to care for her soul on a spiritual level. He recommended books for spiritual direction and spiritual discipline for one’s own spiritual growth.

"Keith pushed me beyond what I felt I could do, but he always left it for me to work it out," she states. Keith helped her to realize that she should live in God’s presence at all times in order to help others. "Professionally, I developed self-awareness, which helps me to better manage anxiety during pastoral visits, with certainty that I am truly listening to those I serve."

Keith’s pastoral skills reach out to staff as well as patients. He is not a person grounded to the chapel. You can find him roaming the halls making sure that the caretakers are not struggling with their duties. Most workers at the hospital describe him as the person they look to for bringing calm and hope to everyone who enters the building. Keith is a shining example of how one puts others’ needs before oneself.

He describes his primary practice as "holy listening," attending to the spiritual dimensions of patients, families and staff lives. His practice is patient-centered, helping others find meaning and inspiration from within their spiritual and religious stories. Keith is a gentle, caring, and compassionate hero working to bring peace and healing to all he serves.

Thomas J. Protack, vice president of development for Beebe Medical Foundation, shared, “When I began working at Beebe, I was amazed that Beebe was so committed to have a full-time chaplaincy program. Throughout the country, many hospitals have decided to cut back or dissolve chaplaincy programs due mainly to cutting costs and overhead. Beebe and Keith are strongly committed to our community, our patients and their families to care for their well-being. I have personally witnessed Keith’s peaceful presence and ministry of listening and caring for our patients and their loved ones at critical times in their lives. We are thrilled to celebrate him and honor his service.”

Jane has made a gift to the Beebe Medical Foundation to thank Keith Goheen for the excellent care he provided her in her training. As a community-owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe continues to depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts, large or small, to Beebe Healthcare, are tax deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Please consider making a gift today and share your amazing stories with our community. To make a donation or to learn more, go to or contact the foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to [email protected].

The Beebe Medical Foundation is so very happy to welcome Mary Ellen South to our amazing volunteer team. Mary Ellen is generously giving of her time and her talents to help us share patient stories and Celebrate Excellent Care at Beebe. She has an extensive background as a writer and is a member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild. Mary Ellen is now enjoying retirement with her husband Mike after a fulfilling and diverse career in education, real estate, promotions, public relations and fundraising. Look for more stories from Mary Ellen South.