8th Annual Caring for the Human Spirit® and The International Westberg Symposium Virtual Conference
Took Place on April 12-14, 2021
Below are highlights from the sessions:
Below are highlights from the sessions:
Plenary: “Accelerating Change: The Emerging Future of Spiritual Care"
Rev. Kevin Massey
Vice President, Mission and Spiritual Care, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital
The provision of spiritual care needs to be examined along with all other areas of healthcare. The field of chaplaincy must study itself to learn what measureable outcomes of its work can be found.
Trends Underway at Advocate Aurora Health
COVID Changed Everything:
Where do spiritual care providers do what they do?
Chaplain Connect (current State) – Advocate’s Telechaplaincy
Purposeful Rounding – Identifying achievable outcomes that contribute to the larger work of the organization
What would it take to re-engineer a whole field?
Keynote Address: Has COVID Made Us Better Caregivers?
Donna E. Shalala, PhD President Emeritus, University of Miam
Trustee Professor, Herbert Business School and Dept. of Political Science
The impact of COVID has led to rethinking the health care system, which was already known to be fragmented with issues of disparities, lack of access, etc. There have been serious issues due to COVID including mental health and loneliness. There are those who have stepped up within the pandemic to “care for the human spirit”. COVID has brought us closer together; it has also identified our gaps. Now is the time to knit together the health care pieces to create a new paradigm of compassion.
We have a generation of children who have issues of anxiety and parents who don’t know how to support them and are more concerned about the future.
Biden administration has proposed several increases:
COVID will fundamentally change the ways in which we provide services, not only health-related but the social issues that surround it. Spirituality must be an essential part of all aspects of it.
Dialogue: Facilitated by George Handzo, APBCC with Questions from Attendees
HANDZO: Chaplains have not traditionally been involved in lobbying. If you were to say a few words to the public about spirituality, what would that be?
SHALALA: There are 2 asks: 1) Be at the table and integrated into the decision-making processes and systems, both health and social care. 2) Talk about how your work is integral to people’s health and wellness. It’s not simply expanding Medicare and Medicaid as filling in the gap – you are the gap. What do you provide? Speak up at the table.
HANDZO: If I were to write to one of my congressional reps, what would I write about?
SHALALA: Address salaries of those working the low-paid yet essential jobs in health care and ask for a broader role for those who provide care for the spirit.
HANDZO: What is in Congress now?
SHALALA: The real play is in the budget, so pay attention to the Appropriations Committee and their members who believe in social justice. The budget has been sent; the chair for the Infrastructure Bill budget is Rosa DeLauro (CT)
What supports the patient and the public? Think about fragmentation; the current health care system isn’t integrated. While one can talk about programs and salaries, look at meal programs, childcare, and all the programs that can lift people out of poverty and care for their needs. Learn about the programs that are in place and are being recommended
Nurses, pharmacists, and nursing assistants’ roles and scope of practice are being expanded. Expanding the role of health care professionals is happening – that is a state issue.
Have to become storytellers; congressional reps are interested in the stories of the people they represent.
HANDZO: What is the role of faith community nurses; is this a place where connection can help with the fragmentation?
SHALALA: Yes, it can be the glue. Approach: Some is licensure however educating everybody is the most important. Focus not only on end of life, but wellness because spirituality encompasses both. The day-to-day of life needs to be supported.
This will be the golden age of telemedicine and telehealth. During COVID, there was limits on touching. However, the 1:1 connection is just as important and needs to be expanded whether by computer or phone. It will change the practice of health care. “Just our ability to talk to people 1:1, especially for those who don’t have access to computers. It’s a new skill set for all of us.”
Bandwidth issues: President Biden will insist on this in the Infrastructure Bill. This is a major issue being pushed and supported as a bipartisan one and has support.
Home health care: Part of the President’s Budget includes expansion of home health care, which is primarily funded by Medicaid. These positions are severely underfunded and often do not include insurance or other opportunities to advance.
Inequities and hesitation about vaccines are all symptoms of mistrust in the health system. What should we be doing to help overcome this?
HANDZO: State licensure for chaplains has been a hot-topic within the profession for years. Is that a good idea?
SHALALA: State licensure is often dictated by politics, not to do with red/blue states, but the medical societies within them. If it will give more access, yes – but wouldn’t spend time on it. Instead, create models for spiritual care for implementation into health systems and work to get them integrated.
Reimbursement funding hasn’t caught up and has met a dead end. That is both a state and federal issue. It’s an issue of broadening the standard of care and integrating spiritual/faith-based practitioners into the health care system as a way of providing wellness. Until some big health care systems step up (and where they have it has been successful), convincing the government to include spiritual-based care integrated into Medicare and Medicaid system bills, it will be uneven.
HANDZO: What can we do to educate more about equity, justice, cultural diversity issues so that they can become leaders?
SHALALA: These are clear social justice issues that many faith leaders have known for a long time; there is a lot of material available. Until everyone has access to quality health care and we can lift a generation of people out of poverty, we will not have social justice.
HANDZO: What do we know now and what can be accomplished in the Biden administration regarding COVID and its variants?
SHALALA: We are on top of the science; these vaccines need to cover the variants although we may need a one-shot booster shot next year like the flu. Public policy moves slowly; to make giant steps to help the country there has to be agreement on the problem and on the solution. We can expect “big things” to be done in Biden’s first two years, i.e. the Jobs Bill, to help improve communities.
HANDZO: What should chaplains and spiritual care providers do to help bridge the gap, or should we simply move ahead?
SHALALA: Closing the gap requires both the government and the faith-based communities, they can’t been seen as separate but integrated.
HANDZO: What helped sustain and nurture you through the pandemic?
SHALALA: What kept me grounded was regularly passing out food in the community, delivering meals to health care workers, having conversations, having a dog, talking to religious leaders in the community about their challenges, music of the faith communities.
HANDZO: We know that because of the pandemic, there will be grief and anxiety; how will these be addressed?
SHALALA: The president is encouraging a large increase in mental health for all, mental health services for health care providers, and investment in the next generation for mental health providers. We have also created a new kind of chronic disease: the COVID long-haulers, which needs to be addressed. We must worry about the work force of the future (including chaplains) as much as expanding current mental health programs, which means funding and strategies from Congress as is related to the high cost/high debt of higher education.
HANDZO: What about billing for services by chaplains and faith community nurses?
SHALALA: that is not particularly a federal issue but rather state-based.
HANDZO: What are other top issues in health care?
SHALALA: Health care has been shifting to outpatient for a long time. Public health and population-based health will be integrated into the system in a new way that hasn’t been seen before. There will also be a larger role for pharmacies and other stores to deliver health care in a way never seen before. Telemedicine as has been mentioned along with technology. The primary health care and the social safety net . Affordability of health care for all with a sense of fairness embedded. Finally, health care regulations have been historically layered upon each other and need to be simplified. Medicare is already doing this, especially within Medicare Advantage, which offers a broad range of services, reduces complexity for providers, and makes access simpler for patients.
Plenary: Providing Grief Support Using Technologies
Susan R. Jacob, PhD, RN
Executive Associate Dean and Professor, UTHSC College of Nursing; Faith Community Nurse
The pandemic has highlighted the critical role of providing support through technologies. Individuals have been isolated; separated from human contact with friends, family, and their faith community. Individuals have been separated from their loved ones who are hospitalized and dying. Funerals and memorial services have been postponed or cancelled. Grief experience and unresolved grief can lead to moral distress as providers encounter deaths that are countless, expected, unexpected, continuous in number, consecutive, and senseless.
Good Grief – Granger E. Westberg:
Grief Support through Technology: Phone, Text, Email, Virtual meetings using Zoom or Teams
Connecting with Others:
Free Online Resources:
Beware of the Dangers of Online Grief Support
GriefShare - https://www.griefshare.org/
Weekly Seminar Topics
GriefShare Web Resources
GriefShare Leader Zone
Non faith-based groups
Plenary: From Healthcare Trauma to Healthcare Trust: Spiritual Care for African Americans in the Face of Medical Apartheid
Rev. Danielle J. Buhuro, D.Min.ACPE
Certified Educator/CPE Supervisor, Advocate Aurora Health Care
History of African American Health Care Oppression in the United States: Key Incidents and Experiments
A Spiritual Care Approach: Caring for the Needs of the African American S.E.L.F.
Oftentimes, as spiritual care providers, we start with theological/faith concerns first. We need to first address these needs in order, i.e. social needs first. To move from health care trauma to health care trust, African Americans need us to be concerned with their social and emotional needs first.
Caring for the African-American SELF in CPE Supervision During Two Pandemics: COVID-19 & Police Brutality. The Journal of Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, Volume 41 (2021) https://journals.sfu.ca/rpfs/index.php/rpfs/index
Monnica Williams suggests that African Americans have PTSD due to overt/covert racism and experience numerous micro-aggressions. Managing Microaggressions: Addressing Everyday Racism in Therapeutic Spaces. Oxford. 2020. ISBN-10: 0190875232
African Americans may interpret their illness from 3 types of theological perspectives:
The spiritual care provider must help persons reinterpret the theological perspective they are holding on to.
Show respect before jumping into addressing needs:
How to start a workplace conversation to raise awareness and understanding of systemic racism and how to address its health impacts
Book: Spiritual Care in an Age of #BlackLivesMatter: Examining the Spiritual & Prophetic Needs of African Americans in a Violent America. Buhuro D. Cascade Books, 2019. ASIN : B081NYJJW4
Granger Westberg Memorial Lecture
Facing the Future: Human Compassion in Systems of Care
Anthony Sheehan, BSN, RN
President and CEO, Aspire Health Alliance
Faith Community Nurses, chaplains and other spiritual care health professionals are at the forefront of responding to a mental health crisis which has been exacerbated by the pandemic,
Connecting people to compassionate care will be critical to our collective recovery, as will self-care. Now more than ever we need to understand that there can be no health without mental health.
Behavioral health (BH) conditions carry considerable human cost for affected individuals and families, including a decline in health status and life expectancy.
BH conditions are just as common than physical health problems
Normal anxiety involves a stimulates, an accurate interpretation of threat, anxious arousal to either fight, flight, or freeze. But anxiety can become distorted with there is a misinterpretation of a threat. Symptoms over time can include:
Strategies to help prevent and reduce emotional challenges:
In terms of help, we know that:
The negative mental health effects of COVID-19 are and will remain massive, far reaching, and long term. The cumulative toll of diagnosable illness fueled by wide exposure to loss, stress, and trauma, but also reflect more. Planetary sided ecological ruptures like this pandemic amplify structural disadvantage and a cascade of compounding risks and multiple vulnerabilities that all result in a deep and emotional damage.
What can we do?
“It seems ever more important than ever that we move beyond tolerance of difference to true and deep empathy with that which is other”. Diana Chapman Walsh
“If you do not listen to people when they whisper their prayers, you increase the risk of meeting them later when they are howling their cries”. James Billiington.