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May 14, 2008 > Muslim spiritual care services

Muslim spiritual care services

By Bosky Panjvani

Kaiser Permanente hospital understands that diversity not only needs to be appreciated, but also requires being understood by addressing particular needs that arise in the course of medical treatment. This can be observed from the spiritual care services they offer in coordination with the Muslim Support Network to patients seeking treatment at their facility in Fremont and Hayward.

The Muslim Spiritual Care Service happens to be one such unique program, through which the specific needs of the Muslims who are receiving treatment are considered and addressed.

"Being hospitalized is a very difficult experience for patients and their families. Many issues can arise including grief, loss and a sense of isolation from what is comforting and familiar," said Reverend Kelly Childress, staff chaplain and manager of the Muslim Spiritual Care Service.

This program was initiated in the April of 2007 by Maria Servin, marketing and diversity service director and Doctor Dave Newhouse, assistant physician in chief for marketing and diversity at Kaiser Permanente, in consultation and coordination with Moina Shaiq, co-founder of Muslim Support Network, and Maram Alaiwat.

"This program helps to provide a sense of security, familiarity and compassion in the spiritual sense to people undergoing medical treatments in hospitals. From the patient's perspective, it is deeply comforting to see someone familiar," stated Rev. Childress.

Every person receiving medical treatment has specific needs and undergoes some kind of emotional upheaval, which needs to be addressed. This program serves the specific needs of the growing members of the Muslim community in the Tri-City area that are being treated at Kaiser Permanente. The volunteers offer Muslim patients undergoing medical treatment support in terms of some specific needs which might arise during their course of hospitalization. Volunteers offer Muslim patients a means to communicate traditional cultural requirements to staff such as gender roles and dietary restrictions.

Spiritual volunteers visit the hospital every week for a few hours and attend to the psychological needs of patients. These volunteers were trained by Stanford Hospital to provide complete care by not only being good listeners, but maintain a trustworthy and confidential relationship with patients seeking their services.

"The glow that I see on the person's face when I am helping somebody out at the hospital cannot be described in words," said Shaiq who volunteers for the program. Shaiq has been involved in this program with Childress since the program's inception.

Kaiser Permanente has two Muslim spiritual care volunteers in Hayward and three in Fremont. Reverend Childress stated that the hospital also has plans to introduce a Hindu spiritual care program in the near future.

For more information about the Muslim Spiritual Care Service at Kaiser Hospital, call Rev. Kelly Childress at (510) 784-6485. For other volunteer program information, contact volunteer manager Amy Choy-kan at (510) 248-3545.

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