Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center chaplains offer spiritual care to all
who are in need. Chaplains have specialized education to mobilize spiritual resources so that patients cope more effectively. They maintain confidentiality and provide a supportive context within which patients can discuss their concerns. They are professionally accountable to their religious faith group, their certifying chaplaincy organization, and Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center. Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center and our chaplains have a deep commitment and sensitivity to diverse ethnic and religious cultures and backgrounds.
What is the role of Spirituality in Health Care at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center?
Spirit is a natural dimension of every person.
Reflecting on the ancient word spirit, Gerald May (1982) writes, "Spirit implies energy and power." The word spirituality goes further and describes an awareness of relationships with all creation, an appreciation of presence and purpose that includes a sense of meaning. Though not true generations ago, a distinction is frequently made today between spirituality and religion, the latter focusing on defined structures, rituals and doctrines. While religion and medicine were virtually inseparable for thousands of years, the advent of science created a chasm between the two. The term spirituality is a contemporary bridge that renews this relationship, which includes religion; spiritual care is inclusive of pastoral care. Here at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, those who provide spiritual care are called chaplains.
Spirituality demonstrates that persons are not merely physical bodies that require mechanical care. Persons find that their spirituality helps them maintain health and cope with illnesses, traumas, losses, and life transitions by integrating body, mind and spirit. When facing a crisis, persons often turn to their spirituality as a means of coping (Pargament, 1997). Many believe in its capacity to aid in the recovery from disease (McNichol, 1996) and 82 percent of Americans believe in the healing power of personal prayer (Kaplan, 1996), using it or other spiritual practices during illness.
Persons frequently attend to spiritual concerns within religious communities through the use of traditional religious practices, beliefs, and values that reflect the cumulative traditions of their religious faith. They may pray, read sacred texts, and observe individual or corporate rituals that are particular to their tradition.
Religious beliefs may encourage or forbid certain behaviors that impact healthcare. Others focus their spirituality outside traditional religious communities and practices. All, however, share deep existential needs and concerns. Many persons both inside and outside traditional religious structures report profound experiences of transcendence, wonder, awe, joy, and connection to nature, self, and others as they strive to make their lives meaningful and to maintain hope when illness strikes. Support for their efforts is appropriately thought of as spiritual care because their search leads to spiritual questions such as “Why do I exist?” “Why am I ill?” “Will I die?” and “What will happen to me when I die?” Institutions that ignore the spiritual dimension in their mission statement or daily provision of care increase their risk of becoming only "biological garages where dysfunctional human parts are repaired or replaced" (Gibbons & Miller, 1989). Such "prisons of technical mercy" (Berry, 1994) obscure the integrity and scope of persons.
Here at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, we believe in the care of the whole person - Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Professional Chaplaincy: Its Role and Importance in Healthcare. Larry VandeCreek, D. Min. and Laurel Burton, Th.D., editors. 2001.