Chaplains Stories of Healing

The Rev. Paul Rickert, Chaplain, St. John’s Riverside Hospital, March 2009

Walking down the hall of the Women’s Rehabilitation Unit at St. John’s-Riverside Parkcare Pavilion with a new seminary intern in tow, I heard an urgent voice coming from within a patient’s room.  “It’ll be okay, baby!  It’ll be okay!”

Sarah Byrne, Staff Chaplain, NYU Langone Medical Center, September 2008

I met Martha when she was recovering from cardiac surgery on the Intensive Care Unit.  She would reach out to anyone who passed by her bed.  Her nurse told me that she was “needy.”  A tightly fitted oxygen mask precluded conversation, but her wide, teary eyes cried out for companionship.

Al-Hajji Imam Yusuf F. Hasan, Staff Chaplain, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, March 2008

As a chaplain of the Islamic faith, I am particularly sensitive to the needs of patients and family members of Middle Eastern descent.  The grieving process of many of these family members is different from other religions and cultures. Many wail and scream out.  Because I handle that kind of trauma well, the hospital calls me whenever there’s a highly-charged situation.

The Rev. Seung-jin Yun, graduate of Chaplaincy’s 2005-2006 Pastoral Care Residency

Last November, my clinical site mentor, the Reverend Jon Overvold, referred a Korean patient to me. His doctor and Chaplain Overvold thought he might have a cultural issue that I could help with.

Rabbi Daniel Coleman, Staff Chaplain, North Shore University Hospital, June 2007

Recently I visited a patient at North Shore University Hospital who had been admitted with severe emphysema.  Though she had trouble breathing, she got right to the point:  A former alcoholic and still a heavy smoker, she said she felt guilty about killing herself.  “I’m dying for a cigarette,” she admitted.

Sr. Margaret Oettinger, OP, Director of Pastoral Care, Hospital for Special Surgery, March 2006

One day an administrator at the Hospital for Special Surgery came to me with a patient referral. She told me that an 81-year-old patient—I’ll call him Donald—was due to undergo surgery but would not sign the necessary consent forms. Having heard me use the phrase many times before in other contexts, she asked me if I would “listen to the music behind Donald’s words.” She wanted to know what was going on with him emotionally that made him so resistant at this critical moment?

Chaplain Elaine Chan

More than a year ago, I was making my rounds on the telemetry unit when a social worker referred me to a hospice patient. His wife was by his bedside and inquired about funeral arrangements for her husband. I explained that once he died, the staff would notify the hevra kaddisha, a volunteer burial society that is trained to prepare the body. “You are a better Jew than I am,” exclaimed the wife. I chuckled since I am not Jewish, but rather the Catholic chaplain.