Pastoral Care Week is October 20-26, 2013. This is an opportunity to recognize the significance of appropriate, professional spiritual care in human health and wellness. The Greek philosopher Plato famously advised, “The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” At NKCH, professional chaplains are an integral part of the overall healthcare team, helping physicians and nurses to access the spiritual resources and address the spiritual needs of patients and families for whole-person healing.

Spiritual Care has been an integral part of North Kansas City Hospital since its earliest days. When the facilities were smaller, the hospital managed with one part time chaplain on staff. I still remember one of the first NKCH chaplains, Dr. Laurence Cleland. It was Dr. Cleland who first introduced me to the unique characteristics of spiritual care in a medical setting. Many of our current staff and returning patients recall Chaplain Tim Brooks who was our first full time spiritual care coordinator. Tim served the hospital and wider community for 31 years before his retirement last December. In addition to direct spiritual care, Chaplain Brooks initiated or helped to organize the hospital’s organ donation program, our first cancer support group, and a Palliative Care team among other on-going features of NKCH. Chaplain Brooks communicated widely with hospital staff — he was the principal spiritual caregiver and guide for several of them over the years — and patiently extended pastoral care throughout the organization as it grew.

Today we have five chaplains serving hospital patients and employees, three of them for the most part “in house” every day, Monday through Friday. We strive to observe the highest standards of professional spiritual care. To this end we work with people from a wide variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. We offer compassionate listening, spiritual encouragement, thoughtful assessment of personal values, a means of contact with local religious communities, prayer support and much more. Our chaplains are specially trained to address the unique spiritual needs of an increasingly diverse area population. We welcome the opportunity to assist anyone who comes through the doors of North Kansas City Hospital. Our goal, like that of the hospital as a whole, is to bring hope and healing to every life we touch.