New York (August 13, 2013) Consistent with HealthCare Chaplaincy’s 52-year history of evolving to meet the changing demands of American health care, Rev. Eric J. Hall has been named president and CEO following a rigorous search process.

He succeeds the Rev. Dr. Walter J. Smith, SJ, who served in that position for the past 22 years. Father Smith has been appointed chancellor of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc. and will continue to serve as an ex officio member of the Board of Directors.

HealthCare Chaplaincy is a leader in integrating spirituality within health care and the growing specialty of palliative care in order to improve patient care and its experience.

“The Board of Directors is enormously grateful to Father Smith for his contributions to the growth of HealthCare Chaplaincy for more than two decades. We are thrilled that he will continue to play a key role on our team,” said Michael Long, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc. Board chairman.

Long commented, “Rev. Hall brings to our organization superb credentials as we pursue our mission through research, education, and clinical practice and develop the National Center for Palliative Care Innovation. The National Center will embody those three core areas, including a 120-unit enhanced assisted living residence for people with serious, chronic illnesses who can no longer live independently.”

Most recently Rev. Hall was the founder and president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Under his leadership and vision, the AFA grew to more than 1,600 member organizations coast to coast and has helped improve awareness and care for Alzheimer’s patients through the creation of numerous programs and services. He has served on the National Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease, working with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and other national experts to develop and implement the nation’s first plan to address Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am honored to assume the leadership of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc. and to collaborate with its staff, Board, supporters, and allied organizations,” said Rev. Hall. “Together we will bring to fruition planned and new initiatives that continue to provide spiritual care and healing to people coping with grief, illness, and trauma.”

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At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Sister Elaine Goodell helps "hundreds of patients annually of all faiths – and nonbelievers, too."

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The Rev. George Handzo, HealthCare Chaplaincy's vice president for pastoral care and leadership, was featured last week on the PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, considered the best TV program on the role of religion and the ethical dimensions related to current news events. 

Rev. Handzo was interviewed for the segment "Faith and the Brain" where "Correspondent Lucky Severenson explores the field of neurotheology to learn if meditation and prayer have a direct impact on the brain. Traveling to the University of Pennsylvania Center for Spirituality and the Mind, the report showcases the use of imaging technology to scan the part of the brain that's activated when a patient prays or meditates. It's called the frontal lobes -- where empathy, focus, compassion and reason reside. Dr. Andrew Newberg of the Center demonstrates his discovery that the way we view God can make a huge difference in how it affects our well being.

In February, Rev. Handzo and Dr. Newberg participated in the TIME Magazine forum "Faith and Healing."

Rev. Handzo  brings a remarkable perspective to this topic: he was educated first as a geologist at Princeton University, then at the Yale University Divinity School, followed by his distinguished career as a board certified chaplain. He says, "Faith and science are different realms of knowing. I respect both, but one does not depend on the other. The program asks: 'There are some who argue that certain people are predisposed or hardwired toward transcendent experiences and some are not.' Science may draw one conclusion on this premise of hardwiring, but faith is going to draw another conclusion. Is there a right and wrong? Who knows? Does it matter? Who knows? That’s what makes the world interesting."

You can find the video segment and transcript here.