Kashouvot’s connection with the department began in July 2013.  Department Head Professor Reuven Or wanted to improve the patients’ experience in this heroic and often harrowing area of medicine.  Approximately half of the transplants are unsuccessful and the patients die of their underlying disease, and the other half live with ravaging side effects in the short and/ or long term.

Valerie Stessin worked in the day clinic from August 2013-2015 two days per week.  Chaplain Dina Herz replaced her in August 2015 and works both in the inpatient and day clinic sections.  The department head asked Dina to increase to three days per week in January 2016, and we are seeking partners to continue to make this increased presence possible.  Dina offers support in English, Hebrew, German and Yiddish.  She has built trust with staff members, is included in interdisciplinary staff meetings, and has been given access to the inpatient department, signs of acceptance and success.

The chaplain can guide patients in honest conversations about their fears and wishes and allow family members to express their conflicted feelings without having to “be strong” for the patient.

The program includes visits with patients and family members, individually or together, a modest estimate is 6 visits per day, 900 per year.  The population is a reflection of Israeli society in all its diversity including young people.  Our chaplains receive monthly supervision so they can avoid burnout and learn to be even better chaplains.

Dina is completing her training as a chaplaincy educator and is mentoring an on site intern from our first cohort of pastoral care students.  The student is providing pastoral care in Hebrew, English and French in the day clinic where people come before and after the transplant for preparation and followup.

The presence of the chaplain in Hadassah at conferences, meetings and other events exposes her to other staff and has led to meetings with other departments, opportunities for education, and connections with potential chaplaincy students.  We hope to expand our presence within Hadassah and to make chaplains an official part of the hospital staff.

This project was made possible thanks to generous grants from anonymous donors from Jerusalem and Boston and the Houston Jewish Community Foundation

 

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