Memorial Hermann is meeting the spiritual needs of patients, families and staff

MemHermannSpiritWhile doctors, nurses and therapists work to advance patient health, members of the Memorial Hermann Chaplaincy Services team are focused on healing the body, mind and spirit of patients, their families and even hospital staff. Spiritual care has been part of Memorial Hermann going back to the original Memorial Baptist Hospital in 1907.

Today, Memorial Hermann has 49 chaplains on staff and 33 supplemental chaplains for night and weekend call serving each of the 13 Memorial Hermann hospitals in the Greater Houston area including Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital as well as hospice and TIRR rehabilitation services. Memorial Hermann’s chaplaincy services provide care through spiritual and emotional support, presence, comfort, counseling and other religious resources.

“We are there to address the spiritual needs as related to the body, mind and spirit of the patient,” says Tim VanDuivendyk, DMin, Vice President, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Memorial Hermann. “There is an important relationship between the three, each affects the other and we know that by meeting spiritual and emotional needs we can aid in a patient’s recovery.”

The largest body of research into spiritual care in healthcare was released in 2014, at the Healthcare Chaplaincy Network’s annual conference. Studies have shown that spiritual well-being helps to moderate feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and isolation.

“It’s important to remember that spirituality and religion are not always the same. Some people are not religious or may not believe in God, yet may be spiritual and in need of spiritual or emotional support,” says VanDuivendyk. “Chaplains respond to human need which can be easing a patient’s anxiety before a procedure, supporting a patient and family in the midst of illness or trauma, or walking with them through and after dying and death.”

VanDuivendyk says most often patients are referred to Memorial Hermann chaplains through physicians, nurses, family members or their individual clergy. He adds that chaplains also work closely with Memorial Hermann staff to support their spiritual and emotional needs.

“Our doctors, nurses and other staff work with people in various stages of wellness, illness and trauma and at times this is a stressful environment and may bring compassion fatigue,” says VanDuivendyk. “We work closely with staff to support their spiritual and emotional needs.”

Memorial Hermann offers a Chaplain Residency that is accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. The program is a theologically based, experiential education program that equips clergy, seminarians and lay ministers with knowledge and skills to provide spiritual care. The curriculum teaches chaplains and ministers to offer spiritual care to all patients and families regardless of their spiritual or religious traditions.

“The chaplain’s specialty is being able to empathically understand the effects of the patient’s spirituality on the body, mind and spirit and be able to intervene to bring healing to an individual,” says VanDuivendyk.

Memorial Hermann is preparing to host the 30th annual 2016 Bowles Chapel Lecture Series in January. The event titled, “Heal Faster, Better, Stronger: Body-Mind-Spirit Interventions” is designed to foster a collaborative spirit and stimulate dialogue between medical and spiritual caregivers.

To register to attend or learn more about the Bowles Lecture Series or about Memorial Hermann Chaplaincy Services call: 713-222-CARE (2273).

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