Calvary Hospital’s staff of priests, ministers, rabbis and other religious figures held its 3rd annual Pastoral Care Day recently, focusing on helping patients find a “supportive presence” while undergoing medical treatment.
The special program, held at the hospital on Thursday, October 29, was for a learning experience for chaplains in the hospital’s pastoral care unit. The group discussed the idea of “supportive presence” with pastoral chaplains from around the country, learning how to better help each patient connect with a supreme being of their choice.
Frank Calamari, president and CEO; Dr. Michael Brescia, executive medical director; Dr. Christopher Comfort, medical director; and Dr. Robert Brescia, welcomed attendees and helped them understand Calvary Hospital’s philosophy and core values of dignity, commitment, non-abandonment, compassion, caring and responsibility.
“The ultimate goal of the pastoral chaplains is to put the patients in touch with, and have them identify with, a divine being,” said Fr. Chux Okochi, director of pastoral care services at Calvary Hosptial. “When they can identify with the sacredness of God, Allah, or any other supreme being, they can feel at peace inside.”
Okochi said that the idea of being a presence means that a minister can help a patient connect with God simply by being by the bedside, whatever the faith of the patient or chaplain, or the aliment of the patient.
“Our philosophy is non-abandonment,” Okochi said. “Sometimes a patient might not even be able to speak, but if you go in and hold the patients hands or just be at their bedside you can convey that you are there for them and help them [connect with a higher power.]”
Attendees at the all-day conference learned from an interfaith panel of nationally recognized pastoral care experts. These included Rev. Beth Glover of New York Presbyterian-Hospital; Rev. Trudi Jinpu Hirsch, certified chaplain supervisor; Father Daniel O’Hare; and Rabbi Shira Stern, a board certified Jewish chaplain. Each speaker led a workshop on an area of his or her expertise.
Topics discussed included active listing to patients “between the lines,” ethical issues for pastoral care givers, personal spiritual healing, and using song and music to access the divine at the bedside.
This is important, because Calvary Hospital takes connecting with the spiritual very seriously.
“We have pastoral care coverage 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a- week,” said Rabbi Charles Rabinowitz, pastoral minister at Calvary Hosptial. “There is never a time when we don’t have a board certified chaplain on duty, and each one of us is trained to deal with all kinds of different faiths.”
©2009 Community News Group