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Opportunities for Spiritual Care & Support

“We are here to support patients, families and staff as they go through a rather challenging time,” explains Reverend Yuko Uesugi, the Interim Director of Department of Spiritual Care at UCLA Health. “For patients and their families, our job starts with first introducing ourselves and building a rapport. For them to feel safe to open up, they need to know that we are safe. One unique thing about our position is that patients and families can say no to our visit. Doctors and nurses come in and do whatever medical treatment is necessary, but when it comes to chaplains, they can say no. That gives the patient a sense of control and power. We call it the Ministry of Being Kicked Out, and we value that because there is so little control that families and patients can feel they have in the hospital.”

“We are interfaith. We have chaplains, a Catholic priest and a rabbi as full-time staff. While we don’t have Imam or a Buddhist monk on staff, when the need arises, we will call and request someone to come visit. There are also many, many people nowadays who identify as spiritual but not religious. When a patient and their family come to UCLA Health, they have a serious illness, and they are in crisis. This may be the first time they have felt a crisis and don’t know where to go. They may feel frightened or anxious. We can help introduce them to the spiritual part of their lives and encourage them to get connected. I think comfort and assurance can come from a sense of connection with others, their loved ones, nature, the universe, or God. We nonjudgmentally respect their feelings and listen to them as we explore together. I think there are many opportunities for us to provide spiritual care and support. We want to help patients and their families find the resources they need as they go through their journey.”


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