Preserving Spiritual Care

Adventist Health is committed to treating the whole person—body, mind and spirit. Because of this philosophy, chaplains are an integral part of the care team, working side by side with doctors, nurses and technicians to meet the needs of patients and their families.

Whole-person care is a vital component of the system's health care approach and Adventist Health is finding creative ways to ensure that chaplains will always be a part of its healing environment.

Several years ago, Adventist Medical Center (AMC) established the Chaplains Endowment in an effort to ensure that pastoral services at the Portland, Ore., facility would always be funded. Establishing an endowment did not imply that AMC was unwilling to financially support its chaplains. However, funding and reimbursement outside a facility's control can often force administration to eliminate positions or trim budgets, but AMC was determined to maintain its strong commitment to pastoral care.

"The vibrancy of our chaplain program is really up to all of us," said Deryl Jones, AMC president and CEO. "We needed to take it off the budget table and preserve the spirit of healing at our facility."

The campaign was ambitious—to raise more than $6 million in five years. Recently, the hospital held a celebration for the endowment, where donors and employees were honored for surpassing the campaign goal and raising $6,232,939 to provide ongoing support for chaplain services at the facility.

Wendell White, campaign steering committee chair and Generations Retirement Communities chairman, encouraged corporations, community members, physicians, foundations, hospital employees and volunteers to support the project. "This was truly a collaborative effort between the community, hospital employees and the philanthropy leadership who helped cultivate campaign gifts," he said. "It was an honor to be a part of an effort designed to extend the healing ministry of Christ."

The celebration event, which was held at the hospital in late spring, included a campaign report and recognized campaign leaders. Sandi Dykes, R.N., who works in the hospital's cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department, served as the Employee Division chair throughout the campaign. Employees alone exceeded their goal of $750,000 by providing nearly $1.2 million in cash gifts, pledges and estate gifts.

"Being a part of the Chaplains Endowment Campaign was such a rewarding experience," Dykes said. "It was exciting to be a very integral part of the passion that we all share to ensure that our chaplain services are not tied to the budgeting process."

Not only was the campaign a success, the idea of the endowment is groundbreaking.

"This is the first endowed health care chaplain's department in the nation," said John Korb, director of philanthropy services at AMC. "As a result, Adventist Health continues to be at the forefront of meeting spiritual needs in the delivery of health care."

Much of a chaplain's work is done quietly, but the impact is great. People in crisis are often searching for spiritual comfort and having chaplains available is a wonderful service that AMC has ensured will always be available. The strong support that the campaign received from the community, business leaders, grateful patients, the medical staff and AMC employees was incredibly affirming.

"Our chaplains meet with patients and family members on a daily basis to provide support in times of illness and health crises," stated Jones. "It is evident that our patients, community members and hospital employees understand the value of chaplains and their contribution to our mission."

September 01, 2007 / Adventist Health