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Issue 83, September 2013


Excitement Building for Annual Wholeness of Life Awards Gala
on November 7th

Honoring Chancellor Fr. Walter Smith,
philanthropist Samuel Peabody, and Hospital Staff


HealthCare Chaplaincy’s 2013 Wholeness of Life gala honors the Rev. Dr. Walter J. Smith, S.J. for his more than two decades of vision, leadership and service as its President and CEO, and toasts the inauguration of his new role as Chancellor. The gala will be held at the Mandarin Oriental, New York, on November 7th at 6 pm.

Sharing the spotlight with Father Smith will be Samuel P. Peabody, esteemed educator, philanthropist and advocate for New York City children and families.  During his long career of public service, Sam helped place promising students of color into independent schools, launching them on a path to college.


The gala will also celebrate honorees from our health care partner institutions who have been selected by their peers for embodying the spirit of Wholeness of Life in their day-to-day work. These men and women, who touch so many lives in unheralded and significant ways, are also recognized at ceremonies held within their own institutions.

One of this year’s patient care honorees is Phil Rodriguez, a patient relations representative and 34-year veteran of NYU Langone Medical Center, who was told he had won the award recently at a surprise ceremony at the hospital.  Rev. David Fleenor of HealthCare Chaplaincy and NYULMC made the announcement, which was met with tears of joy, not just from Phil himself, but also from his colleagues.  “There aren’t a lot of people who do everything for others and expect nothing in return,” said one colleague.  “People are naturally drawn to him,” said another, “and he’s naturally inclined to help whenever and wherever he’s needed.”

Phil himself, modest to the end, said “Part of the beauty of it, after all the hard work, years of dedicating yourself – at least my peers think I’m okay!  If my peers think I’m okay, that’s not too bad at all.”

To purchase tickets or a table, click here.

Dartmouth Post-Graduate Fellow Gains Valuable Insights
from Year at HealthCare Chaplaincy

Each year HealthCare Chaplaincy mentors a post-graduate fellow from the Dartmouth College program, Dartmouth Partners in Community Service, funded by the Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation.  These committed Dartmouth graduates work on a variety of projects, gaining valuable skills that can be applied towards careers that make meaningful contributions to society.


Michael Appeadu was our third fellow in this program.  When he started at HealthCare Chaplaincy in August of 2012, one of his first assignments was to shadow chaplains at two of our partner hospitals, to gain an understanding of the importance of spiritual support in health care.  “It gave me a chance to see exactly what spiritual intervention means and how it impacts patients,” says Michael.  “The combination of spirituality and medicine isn’t something you delve into in medical school, so this was a unique experience that I’m fortunate to have been given.”

Michael’s main project was to develop a hospital readmissions reduction pilot program in partnership with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and New York Hospital Queens and funded by a grant from the New York Community Trust.

“Unnecessary hospital readmissions are high,” observed Michael, “causing hospitals to be financially penalized.  This pilot program seeks to significantly reduce 30-day readmission rates through chaplaincy intervention and support from volunteers from various community houses of worship.”

In this pilot program, in addition to providing spiritual care to patients while in the hospital, chaplains continue to provide support after the patient has been discharged.  The chaplains, working together with community volunteers, follow up with the discharged patients at their homes to make sure that they’ve transitioned back to their home safely and supporting them in whatever other ways they need.  “We believe that this combination of spiritual and physical support can reduce readmission rates,” said Michael.

In July Michael left to start medical school at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Admission to the school is highly selective; in 2011 there were more than 6,400 applications for 138 first year medical student positions.

Commenting on the work environment at HealthCare Chaplaincy, Michael said, “I found it to be an immersive learning experience, enhanced by fun, collaborative and helpful staff members…a unique foundation for my future career in medicine.”

Michael summed up his year at HealthCare Chaplaincy in seven words: “All in all, this place is awesome!”

2013-2014 Dartmouth Post Grad Fellow Joins Chaplaincy


Succeeding Michael Appeadu in the position of 2013-2014 Project Development fellow is Vaidehi Mujumdar.  Vaidehi graduated from Dartmouth and has her sights set on medical school.

While at Dartmouth, she served as a hospice volunteer with the Visiting Nurse Service of Vermont and New Hampshire. She also served as a Fellow for the Akili Initiative Global Health Think Tank where she developed global health best practices curricula for the Clinton Global Initiative Commitment & Ashoka Youth Venture.

Vaidehi researched the effects of multilingualism on health care access and illness narratives in India for her honors thesis: Impact of Multi-Lingualism on Illness Narratives: A Case Study of Khar & Nallasopara Communities in Mumbai.

Vaidehi grew up in Virginia, but her family is originally from India. She’s native in Marathi, fluent in Hindi, and intermediate in Spanish.

She’ll be working primarily on the readmissions reduction program with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and New York Hospital Queens.

“I’m excited for the upcoming year with HealthCare Chaplaincy,” says Vaidehi, “because I believe in the importance of a holistic approach to community health and wellness. At Dartmouth, I double majored in Anthropology and Biology, while completing my pre-medical requirements. My interdisciplinary course of study fostered both academic and personal growth regarding the social determinants of health.

“Having worked and conducted ethnographic research in health care settings in India, Central & South America, and rural communities in New England and the Southern U.S., I came to realize how similar the challenges are in providing efficient, patient-centered care to all these seemingly disparate communities. Most importantly, I realized the importance that illness narratives play in patient outcomes.

“I believe that the integration of spiritual care within different health care systems reduces many of these challenges by helping to construct and inform those narratives. Working for HealthCare Chaplaincy, an organization that recognizes the importance of shared decision-making and the patient perspective, I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn and apply the invaluable knowledge I gain in my future career in medicine.”

A U.S. Congressman Who "Gets" Spiritual Care Insists That Scientific Evidence is a Must to Make the Case to Health Care Policy Makers


U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) says that practitioners of spiritual care have done a great job in describing their art, but that the way truly to persuade health care delivery policymakers and decision makers on Capitol Hill of the value of spiritual care is to develop and present the scientific evidence.

Congressman Ryan was speaking in July at the fifth annual Spirituality and Health Summer Institute hosted in Washington, DC by the George Washington University for Health (GWish).

He is the author of A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit, published by Hay House in 2013.

Summer Institute keynote speaker Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Institute for Medicine, agreed and reinforced the relevance of spirituality for both patient and caregiver. “Not only are the ideals of scientifically grounded health care and spiritually centered care compatible, but they are also integrally interdependent,” he said.

The second keynote speaker, Howard Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said:  “Much like public health overall, we don’t know where this journey will lead or what the conclusions will be, but we have decided it’s important to take a risk and come together to help each other find better answers.”

The Summer Institute’s 52 participants included physicians, nurses, educators, chaplains (about half of those attending) and social workers from the U.S. and elsewhere.
Topics included recognizing the role of spirituality as an essential component of patient-centered care, developing an understanding of the evidence base for integrating spirituality into patient care, and acknowledging the role of spirituality in how patients define health, wellness and quality of life.

George Fitchett, DMin, PhD, professor and director of research in the Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values at Rush University in Chicago, provided an overview of current research on the role of religion and spirituality in patient health outcomes. “A substantial body of research on these topics has developed over the last 15 years,” said Dr. Fitchett, who outlined advances that have been made in understanding the effects of spirituality for patients with serious illness. “Studies show patients have spiritual needs that range from overcoming fears to finding peace, to hope and meaning, to spiritual resources that may help them. They want their clinicians to address their spirituality and integrate that into their care.”

Dr. Fitchett also noted the need for better studies, including studies in different cultures, as well as diagnostic groups, in order to better understand spiritual well-being, spiritual distress and spiritual practices in patients’ health care.

Summer Institute co-chair, the Rev. George Handzo of HealthCare Chaplaincy, reports that a particularly instructive part of the event was the interaction of interdisciplinary health care teams (physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, and others) with professional actors who portray patients who hypothetically present specific medical conditions. The teams interviewed the patient-actor and recommended a whole-person care plan that encompassed body, mind, and spirit.

The Rev. Handzo says, “We kept the patient-actor in the room with the team and said to the actor, ‘We want you to participate with the team to develop a treatment plan.’ The toughest part for the chaplains was recognizing that they needed to make a recommendation as a member of the team and not, as they said, wait for ‘it to come from the patient’ per their classical training in clinical pastoral education."
“As members of the interdisciplinary team, chaplains need to be more than ‘be present.’ They need to step up as spiritual care experts.”

GWish is the first university-chartered institute for spirituality and health in the United States and is committed to education and clinical issues related to spirituality and health. Its founder and director is Christina Puchalski, MD, who remarked, “The goal is to define new modalities of care that address the complete person. Spirituality and health is about developing a standard of care, those treatment plans that are whole-person centered.”

Editor’s note:  This article originally ran in HealthCare Chaplaincy’s PlainViews®, the preeminent online professional journal for chaplains and other spiritual care providers.

Free Alzheimer’s Association Annual Meeting
Will Present Important New Research Findings


The Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter, invites you to attend the 2013 Annual Chapter Meeting, featuring a panel discussion on Brain-Mapping: Implications for Alzheimer’s Research.

Hear this distinguished panel of experts discuss new brain mapping tools and the long-term implications of brain mapping on Alzheimer’s disease research:

Peter Davies, PhD, scientific director, Litwin-Zucker Center for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease, Feinstein Institute, North Shore/LIJ Healthcare System.

Mony J. de Leon, EdD, professor of psychiatry and founder and director of the Center for Brain Health, Department of Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center.

Scott A. Small, MD, professor, Boris and Rose Katz professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Columbia University Division of Aging and Dementia, Taub Institute.

The program will be moderated by Dr. Max Gomez, CBS 2 medical reporter.

Date: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Place: The Times Center
242 West 41st Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
New York City
Time:  5:30 pm - Check-in
6:00 pm - Program and Q&A
8:00 pm – Reception and Book Signing
RSVP: By Tuesday, September 24th , 2013
Patti DiBenedetto, 646.744.2998 or www.alznyc.org/annualmeeting

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We appreciate your interest and support. Please feel free to send any questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Rev. Eric J. Hall
President & CEO

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc.

HealthCare Chaplaincy (HCC) is an international leader in integrating spirituality within health care and the growing specialty of palliative care in order to improve patient care and its experience. HCC pursues this mission through research, education, clinical practice, and alliances with likeminded organizations. HCC provides professional chaplaincy services in leading health care facilities, and since 1961 has helped bring comfort and healing to countless people coping with illness, trauma, and grief– whatever their beliefs, values or culture. HCC is achieving major advances in clinical pastoral education, online continuing professional education, and research into the evidence of the value of chaplaincy interventions. It is developing the National Center for Palliative Care Innovation, which will include an enhanced assisted living residence for people with serious, chronic illnesses who can no longer live independently.


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