University of Tennessee Medical Center Receives 'Excellence in Spiritual Care' Award

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) recently awarded its prestigious “Excellence in Spiritual Care” award to The University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, Tenn. The hospital is the first in the state to receive this honor after meeting HCCN’s proprietary national quality standards.

The award signifies that The University of Tennessee Medical Center is committed to optimally addressing its patients’ spiritual and religious needs. It received the award after going through HCCN’s extensive evaluation process.

“It’s an honor to work with members of the pastoral care team as they provide spiritual care for patients, family members, and staff at The University of Tennessee Medical Center,” said Rev. Steve Sexton, director of the Pastoral Care Department at The University of Tennessee Medical Center. “Our collaborative, interdisciplinary and integrated environment allows us to provide the pastoral care that resulted in this prestigious recognition from the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network. We are proud to receive it.”

The medical center, which is the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, founded its pastoral care department in 1985. Since, the department has grown from one chaplain to its current staff of eight full-time, board certified chaplains. In addition, it hosts a clinical pastoral education (CPE) program, accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), that has six residents and up to 12 interns at any given time.

Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO, applauded The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s accomplishment. “The University of Tennessee’s Medical Center’s emphasis on spiritual care speaks to a commitment by its administrators, chaplains, and the entire health care team to improving quality of life for its patients and their families,” Hall said. “In addition, the fact that future chaplains are being trained by a facility that has set a high standard for spiritual care bodes well for the future.”

Since June 2015, HCCN has recognized a dozen institutions—11 hospitals and one hospice—in six states, and many other health care settings nationwide are undergoing the detailed review process. As part of the process, HCCN specialists identify areas in an institution’s spiritual care program in need of improvement—and provides consultation to achieve goals, and assists in more fully integrating chaplaincy services into its overall health care delivery.

HCCN identified the standards based on professional literature and its extensive 55-year history as a leader in spiritual-related clinical care, education and research. A growing body of research demonstrates the positive impact of spiritual care, including improved quality of life and patient satisfaction scores.

About HealthCare Chaplaincy Network

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network is a global health care nonprofit organization that offers spiritual-related information and resources, and professional chaplaincy services in hospitals, other health care settings, and online. Its mission is to advance the integration of spiritual care in health care through clinical practice, research and education in order to increase patient satisfaction and help people faced with illness and grief find comfort and meaning—whoever they are, whatever they believe, wherever they are. For more information, visit, call 212-644-1111, and connect with us on twitter and Facebook.