Fall 2013 - 9
n times of illness, trauma and loss, many people require more than physical
care to cope and heal.
That’s why the chaplains at The University of Tennessee Medical Center
serve team members, patients and family members 24 hours a day providing
emotional and spiritual support. In times of stress and recovery, patients have
a fundamental right to considerate care that safeguards their personal dignity
and respects their cultural, psychosocial and spiritual values. Miracles happen
every day, and chaplains are often on the front lines of triumph as well as
despair. Pastoral Care director Steve Sexton says, “Words can be inadequate.
So often I am there to just be present and provide spiritual and emotional
Being present as people face some of life’s most challenging times is what the
does on a daily basis. Each day they are prepared to expect
the unexpected: offering comfort in times of distress, rejoicing at the birth
of a new baby or encouraging test results, journeying alongside patients as
they experience the highs and lows of recovering from illness, listening and
providing counsel in challenging circumstances.
Offering spiritual care and comfort to patients and families is only part of the
ministry Pastoral Care provides – tending to the emotional and spiritual needs
of medical staff is also a vital part of their everyday work. The medical staff
understands assisting with spiritual and emotional needs is an important part
of caring for the whole person. As part of an academic medical center, the
helps the hospital fulfill its mission of education by
having a full-time chaplain residency program and serving as a resource for
pastoral education in the region.
Sources of Comfort and Meaning
By Bonnie Horner
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