Waimea hospital launches volunteer chaplain program


North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) announces a new chaplaincy program, consisting of 10 community volunteer chaplains who offer spiritual comfort to patients and family members through the healing process with prayer, guidance and support.

“This new chaplaincy program will be an integral part of our holistic approach to patient care and healing at NHCH,” said Arielle Faith Michael, NHCH director of Holistic Care Services. Like other small community hospitals, NHCH is unable to afford a chaplain on staff, yet the need to provide patients and their families with spiritual support and prayer is a real priority.

“The hospital has had relationships with numerous community chaplains and church leaders for several years; however, we recently formalized these relationships and broadened the program in an effort to bring patients and their families even more spiritual comfort,” said Michael.

The community volunteer chaplains are invited to “make rounds” offering spiritual comfort to inpatients, their families and hospital staff throughout the hospital, including: Medical/Surgical, Critical Care Unit, Same Day Surgery, Emergency and Family Birthing.

“As chaplains, we can spend time with patients in prayer, in nurturing conversation, or by just being nearby in supportive silence. These gentle and caring acts can often help alleviate some of the anxiety many patients feel during stressful times,” said Buddhist minister Franco Acquaro, a member of the hospital’s volunteer chaplaincy program.

Patients may ask for their own pastors; however, if their pastor is not available or the family does not regularly attend church, now a volunteer chaplain will be called.

NHCH volunteer chaplains include several religions and the following individuals: the Rev. Robert (Bob) Schwarzhaupt and Deacon Larry Ignacio from Annunciation Catholic Church; Kahu Tyrone Reinhardt from Imiola Congregational Church; Acquaro, from Amida Hawaii and a psychologist at NHCH’s Kaheleaulani, a Native Hawaiian Health Program; Buddhist Rev. Kosho Yagi from Kamuela Hongwanji; Christian Revs. Sonny Shimaoka, Noleen Kua Mendes, Sioni Tilini, Peter Finch and Dennis Martin Jr., from New Hope Church.

“Mahalo to NHCH for allowing us the opportunity to support the hospital and our community through their chaplaincy program,” said Shimaoka of New Hope-Waimea. “This program creates a bridge enabling us to better support those who may desire spiritual guidance or comfort.”

Volunteer chaplains are official members of the NHCH Volunteer Program and can be identified easily by staff and patients by their hospital-issued identification badge, which clearly states “Chaplain.”

Volunteer chaplains were briefed on hospital protocols and are to follow the same strict patient rights and privacy guidelines as other hospital personnel under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Chaplains are not to tell others that a patient is in the hospital without the patient’s permission, will not pray for a patient if asked not to and must leave a patient’s room upon request.

In addition, chaplains will not proselytize. For more information, or if you are interested in joining the hospital’s volunteer chaplaincy program, please contact Michael at 881-4416.

 

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