ALBANY, Ga. -- Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials say they removed Bibles from rooms at the hospital for infection control.
In response to calls and emails sent to The Albany Herald this week, Phoebe officials explained the removal of the Bibles.
Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy with Phoebe, said the Bibles had been taken out of the patient rooms several years ago to help with infection control, action taken with other items throughout the hospital -- including magazines.
The removal does not mean that Bibles are unavailable to those who want one, Ryan said in a statement to The Herald.
"Several years ago we stopped the process of having Bibles left in rooms for multiple patients to use," she wrote. "This is a standard infection control measure and is reflected in other areas as well, such as in pediatrics where there are no 'community books.'
"As you know, Phoebe has a strong chaplaincy program to provide for the spiritual needs of patients and families. Although no Bibles are left in rooms for multiple patient use, the Gideons have continued to come to the hospital and they deliver Bibles to patients via our nursing stations and place new Bibles in cleaned rooms. New Bibles are available to patients via the Gideons, or patients and families may ask a nurse for a Bible supplied by our chaplaincy. When the patients leave, they may take the Bible with them. If they leave it behind, our EVS staff removes the Bible. The next patient gets a new one.
"We have a dozen dedicated Gideon volunteers who provide this service on Saturdays twice monthly. They have committed to the volunteer process and met all requirements. We have no record of patient or family complaints about availability of Bibles," Ryan concluded.
When asked if other items had been removed from patient rooms, Ryan said that items such as television remotes are sanitized by staff.