The Healthcare Chaplain is an integral member of the healthcare team, and is available to provide pastoral/spiritual care for patients, family and staff. In the often stressful and demanding healthcare environment, the Chaplain is an understanding friend and confidant. The Chaplain provides a listening ear, and is available to offer guidance and counsel, especially during times of personal family need or professional pressures.

Chaplains provide the opportunity for patients, family and staff to verbalize spiritual and/or emotional issues and provide education to help them integrate the illness or crisis and their personal values and faith.  Chaplains make note of cultural and traditional values of the patients and their families, and assist the staff with incorporating these into the plan of care, including privacy and dietary needs.  Chaplains engender hope and confidence in the medical care and the outcome of our patients.

Chaplains can be called upon for a variety of needs, and assist with celebrations of the patient’s life when the hospitalization occurs at a time when they would normally be with their family.  They provide spiritual counsel on ethical issues, grief and loss issues, and assist with preventing the feelings of isolation and loneliness that can accompany illness and injury.  Chaplains also provide support at time of birth, surgery, diagnosis, prolonged hospitalization and end of life.

One patient’s family member wrote: “Thank you for being my soft spot to fall, my family away from family”.

Chaplain services which are supported by Maricopa Health Foundation are listed below.

The Grief/Trauma Cart

was donated by the Core Unit Based Council and the Maricopa Health Foundation.  The cart has refreshments and snacks and Care Notes ® literature on grief issues.  Chaplains bring the cart to the family/visitors, and provide emotional and spiritual support during a time of crisis or grief, including end of life situations and when Donor Network of Arizona is called.

“Tea for the Soul” boxes

are specialty teas for patients who need a little extra care and comfort.  Chaplains  individualize the tea boxes for the patient, based on their preferences, and refill the boxes during the course of their hospital stay.  If the patient is re-admitted to the hospital for follow up care, Chaplains remember their favorites and provide refills of tea for their boxes in organza gift bags.  The patients report that they feel welcomed when they receive their tea boxes and refills, as though a close friend has remembered their needs.

Helping Hands for Employees (Employees helping Employees)

Funded by Maricopa Health Foundation through donations by MIHS employees  who contribute to the iCare2Share employee giving program, this program is administered by the Chaplains to ensure confidentiality for the employees who apply for assistance.  Employees who are experiencing a financial crisis can apply for rental or mortgage assistance, utility assistance, for assistance for funeral expenses for immediate family members and for assistance with food. The Chaplains administer the funds and provide emotional and spiritual support to employees who are facing financial and emotional difficulties.

Annual Donor Family Memorial

The Annual Donor Family Memorial is provided for families of MIHS patients, who chose to donate life saving organs or tissue.  The Maricopa Health Foundation, Pediatric Bereavement Committee, Donor Advisory Committee and the MIHS Administration provide this opportunity to thank the families and remember the patients.

Skype Project for Patients

The Patient Skype Project is a joint effort provided for patients by the Maricopa Health Foundation, the IT Department, the Service Excellence committee and the Core Unit Based Council committee. It allows patients to contact their families through a free downloadable application called Skype.  Two units, a mobile unit with laptop, screen and web cam provided by the IT Department, and two iPads provided by the Maricopa Health Foundation, will be available starting in July to patients by appointment.

The Skype Project for Patients allows family members that are too far away to visit, be present at end of life, and communicate with the patient and other family members when critical medical decisions need to be made, and emotional and spiritual needs are great.

“Gilbert” Mobile Unit

This mobile unit is named after the patient who inspired its creation.  In 2011, a 57 year old patient on Stn 42 had been in the hospital for eight days following surgery.  During a routine Chaplain visit, the patient stated that he missed his family so much that he was considering leaving the hospital.  The Chaplains were concerned that the patient’s emotional need to see his family and 10 grand children would compromise his medical care.  We asked IT to develop a vehicle for him to contact his family and still continue with his plan of care.  Within 24 hours, the “Gilbert” unit was created. The Chaplains then realized that the same problem exists when multiple family members are hospitalized in the Maricopa Medical Center at the same time.  They can’t visit each other, but their concern for each other is great.  So they asked the Maricopa Health Foundation to provide iPads for the Chaplains to use in conjunction with the “Gilbert” mobile unit.  Now husbands and wives, parents and their children can stay in touch while they are in the hospital.

Grief, Trauma and Post Traumatic Shock Project

Future plans for collaboration between the Chaplain/Spiritual Care Department and the Foundation include a Grief, Trauma and Post Traumatic Shock Project to provide additional assistance to families at end of life, and offer education to staff about these important topics.  An annual memorial for the families of patients and staff who have passed away during the year is also in the planning stages, in conjunction with the Pediatric Bereavement Committee.  In the future we hope to work with Trauma Services and the Arizona Burn Center to provide a Grief specialist to assist with these duties, with assistance from the Grants Department of MIHS.

Also:  Cancer support materials and Spiritual Care items such as rosaries, prayer cards and student Scholarship to become a Certified Chaplain Assistant.