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March 13, 2012 > A Caring Presence Can Provide Comfort

A Caring Presence Can Provide Comfort

Washington Hospital's Spiritual Care Services Offers Support

The hospital is a place where life-altering events happen daily, causing both great joy and deep sadness. Lives are forever changed with the birth of a baby or with a difficult diagnosis, for instance. People often need someone to talk to and stand by them in that moment.

"Most people regardless of their religious or spiritual practice need someone to be present with them when they receive either distressing or exciting news," said Rabbi D'vorah Rose, coordinator of Spiritual Care Services at Washington Hospital. "Having someone who is present can be very comforting. They may well want their own clergy to come to their side, and we will make that happen. But in the moment of receiving the news, having someone who can sit with them and be empathetic, hold their hand and listen, is really important."

Washington Hospital offers Spiritual Care Services around the clock. Rabbi Rose and the on-call clergy who serve patients and their loved ones provide interfaith care.

"We have all been trained in the practices and beliefs of a wide range of religions and cultures," she said. "We are comfortable working with people of any religion or spiritual practice, as well as those who have no religious or spiritual beliefs."

Sometimes people need a quiet place to go to pray, meditate, or reflect. Washington Hospital provides a meditation room on the first floor across from the surgical waiting room that has bibles, prayer books, and other reading material from a variety of religions.

"It's a comfortable, quiet, nondenominational space where people can go," Rabbi Rose said. "It's available for patients, their loved ones, and hospital staff. I leave my card in the meditation room so people can get in touch with me if they need my help. They can also call me if they would like to have other prayer books and reading material available in the meditation room."

Part of the Health Care Team

Rabbi Rose and the other chaplains who provide Spiritual Care Services are an integral part of the health care team. They are often called to the bedside by a physician or nurse who knows the family could use their support.

"I have to say the hospital staff here is very caring and they really keep an eye out for how people are doing," she said. "We come in contact with patients and their families in a number of ways. Sometimes we see people out in the hallway who are upset and we introduce ourselves. Other times a family member might ask us to talk with their loved one. At times, we know the family because their loved one has been in the hospital before and we already have established a relationship."

Rabbi Rose was a nurse before she studied to become a Rabbi, so she already felt comfortable in the health care setting. She said her background helps her to better understand what patients and families are going through.

Often she helps patients and their loved ones talk through some of the tough decisions related to care, including end-of-life issues. Unless a patient has an advanced health care directive that spells out their wishes, their loved ones may not know what they would want.

"If a patient is unable to speak for themselves, we have to rely on family members," Rabbi Rose explained. "Sometimes it's just about asking the right questions to help the family clarify their decision. After talking with me, they may go back to their physician for more medical information, and then come back to me to discuss it further. We all work together to make sure the patient gets the best care possible and their loved ones get the support they need."

For more information about Spiritual Care Services at Washington Hospital or if you are interested in volunteering to sit with patients and their loved ones, contact Rabbi Rose at (510) 745-6569.

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