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HealthCare Chaplaincy Network Tonight Holds Annual Ceremony to Renew Spiritual Care Commitment, Honor Two Trailblazers

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Chaplains from around the world will renew their commitment to spiritual care as well as join in honoring two innovators in the field at HealthCare Chaplaincy Network’s (HCCN) Annual Convocation Ceremony, which will be held on May 12 at Temple Emanu-El in New York.

HCCN will present its prestigious Pioneer Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Health Care to Richard Payne, M.D.,  of Durham, N.C., an internationally-known expert in the areas of pain relief, palliative care, oncology and neurology, and the Esther Colliflower Professor of Medicine and Divinity, Duke Divinity School at Duke University, Durham, N.C.;  and Larry Vandecreek, D.Min., of Grand Rapids, Mich., a trailblazing researcher for the profession of health care chaplaincy, former editor of The Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, and former director of research at HCCN.  

“The convocation ceremony comes at a time of transformation in spiritual care in health care. The invaluable contribution of spiritual care to overall wellness is gaining recognition, both in research and in practice,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO. “Every day, around the world, chaplains of all faiths are nobly making their mark, by listening and walking with people on their personal journeys to overcome spiritual distress.”

At the event, HCCN will lead professional chaplains in a communal oath of recommitment to their service, which includes a pledge to “respect the religious and spiritual traditions of my patients, colleagues, as well as my own,” and “practice the art and science of spiritual care in an honorable and ethical manner.”

In addition, HCCN will install two of its chaplains in the ministry of chaplaincy care, charging them in part to perform “with skill and wisdom, always tempered by compassion.” The HCCN employees provide chaplaincy services at major hospitals in New York: Rev. Tenku Ruff at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

This is the fifth year that HCCN will be bestowing the Pioneer Medal to distinguished leaders in the field.

“This year’s honorees have been true pioneers in spiritual care. Their rich accomplishments and profound commitment to science and, moreover, to people in need make each of them deeply deserving of this recognition,” Hall said.

A number of research studies show that the majority of Americans say that spirituality, in some form, should be an important consideration in their health care. Yet one study showed that 72 percent of patients said their spiritual needs were minimally or not at all supported by the medical system even though spiritual support was highly associated with quality of life.

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