During a stay or short-term visit to the hospital, patients and their family members may need support to maintain their sense of strength and hope. The Adventist Health Spiritual Care team is there to help provide that support.
The team of chaplains tends to the well-being of hospital staff members as well. They sit on committees, lead out in devotional messages throughout the hospital and are involved in a variety of community initiatives.
We invite you to follow along as we take a look inside a day in the life of three Adventist Health chaplains — Kelly Kessinger, Adventist Health Glendale chaplain; John King, Adventist Health Bakersfield chaplain; and Sidany Barclay, Adventist Health Portland chaplain.
8:00 a.m. — Prepping for the Day
Kelly Kessinger, Adventist Health Glendale chaplain (center), arrives at the hospital and begins preparing the census for the day. This involves identifying newly admitted patients she and the team of chaplains will visit, taking note of patients who have requested a visit from a chaplain and identifying patients the chaplains have seen before who may benefit from a follow-up visit.
8:30 a.m. — Starting With Prayer
Kessinger and the rest of the Adventist Health Glendale spiritual care team meet to discuss plans for the day and pray about the work ahead.
9:30 a.m. — Sharing a Good Word
John King, Adventist Health Bakersfield chaplain, writes a daily devotional thought for the hospital staff. King’s devotions are based on the mission and values of Adventist Health blended with events that happen at the hospital.
9:45 a.m. — Meeting With Colleagues
Kessinger and the Adventist Health Glendale spiritual care team join the daily safety huddle with the hospital executive team and department directors where they share a devotional thought and prayer and discuss the day ahead, including the number of patients, planned procedures and surgeries, and any patient safety concerns.
10:00 a.m. — Supporting Hospital Staff
Chaplains at Adventist Health Glendale begin meeting with patients. As they make rounds, they also check on hospital staff. Supporting the well-being of nurses and other care providers is an important part of chaplaincy and a key element in helping healthcare providers bring the best possible care to patients.
Through interactions with the spiritual care team, nurses and other staff members also learn about ways chaplains can help patients and family members who are struggling. The majority of a chaplain’s day is focused on providing spiritual care and helping patients work through fears and anxieties so they can receive the medical care they need.
10:00 a.m. — Keeping Morale High
Sidany Barclay, Adventist Health Portland chaplain, delivers donuts and a card from the family birth center team to the ICU team, which was having a particularly difficult time. Barclay started this gift-giving initiative and facilitates all the details to help boost staff morale.
It’s a win-win-win: The unit doing the giving feels good about making a difference for another team, the unit receiving the gift feels supported and the spiritual care team knows that hospital staff are being cared for.
Noon — A Little Self-Care
Chaplains at Adventist Health Glendale take time midday to unwind, chat with fellow spiritual care providers and rejuvenate. Conversations range from lighthearted topics to deep theological issues or helping one another process a difficult patient visit.
After a break, chaplains are back on the floors visiting patients and talking with hospital staff. Chaplains chart all patient visits immediately after they take place.
1:00 p.m. — Part of Jesus’ Healing Ministry
Barclay leads out in the Blessing of Hands at Adventist Health Portland, a ceremony for new graduate residents as they begin their careers in caregiving. The service reminds them of their call to be part of the healing ministry of Jesus.
1:45 p.m. — Making Difficult Decisions
A meeting of the healthcare decision-making team is called at Adventist Health Portland. The team includes the physician who is the chair of the hospital ethics committee, the physician who asked for the meeting, representatives from risk management, social work and the spiritual care department, and a community member.
An HDT meeting is called when a patient’s care requires a medical decision, such as a necessary procedure, removal of life support, etc., when the patient is unable to make the decision themselves due to their condition, and when there is no family member or legal power of attorney to make the decision for them.
2:00 p.m. — Cross-Sectional Expertise
King participates in an interdisciplinary meeting with the palliative care and social work teams at Adventist Health Bakersfield to discuss changes in a patient’s care. Interdisciplinary meetings may also address any spiritual or religious needs of a patient that are important to providing the best medical support.
2:00 p.m. — Nurturing the Next Generation
Barclay presents a devotional message for a group of students at Adventist Health Portland focused on living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope — the mission of Adventist Health.
3:30 p.m. — Alleviating Fears
King takes part in interdisciplinary ICU rounds along with other hospital teams at Adventist Health Bakersfield. His role is to contribute to the whole-person care of patients and family members by providing pastoral support, such as prayer and comfort, but also to help assess and meet spiritual needs that can impact medical care. These include refusal of treatment based on fears and anxieties, which King works to alleviate.
4:00 p.m. — Focusing on the Heart of Mission
Chaplains sit on various hospital committees, and today Kessinger meets with the employee well-being committee at Adventist Health Glendale. At committee meetings, chaplains provide input from a mission and spiritual care perspective and often open meetings with prayer.
4:00 p.m. — Supporting One Another
Back at Adventist Health Portland, Barclay prays with a local priest. “This was the most moving for me,” said Barclay. "The local priest stopped by the chaplain’s office just to talk about the difficulties and joys of ministry. Then he asked us to pray for him."
5:00 p.m. — Finding Meaning and Hope
The mission story board helps keep the spiritual care team at Adventist Health Bakersfield engaged in the practical ways they impact medical outcomes.
While chaplains support, comfort and pray for patients daily, this board records the ways they have helped improve care specifically by improving communication, preventing departures against medical advice and supporting what they call “transformational experiences” — times when they help patients reconnect to their faith and find new meaning and hope.
7:00 p.m. — Meeting for Inspiration
Barclay participates in First Friday, an inspirational community event led by a local church partner of Adventist Health Portland on the first Friday of every month. Barclay said, “It is so good to see people just show up to be inspired with no strings attached.”