New University Hospital Chaplain Views Spiritual Care As Integral Part of Helping Patients Heal

New University Hospital Chaplain Views Spiritual Care As Integral Part of Helping Patients Heal

Nov 19, 2007 1:48 PM

Susan J. Roberts, M.Div., plans to meet a lot of people in her role as University of Utah Hospital’s new chaplain.

“My goal is to make contact with every patient in the hospital,” said Roberts, who comes to the University from a chaplaincy at a Berkeley, Calif., medical center. “I believe spiritual care is an important part of healing. Any way patients can be nurtured helps their care.”    

 A full schedule of patient visits, whether to offer a word of encouragement, give spiritual comfort or augment other clergy’s ministering, is one part of Roberts’ ambitious plan for University Hospital’s pastoral-care program. She also wants to develop a volunteer chaplaincy corps, expand monthly interfaith lunches with clergy who minister in the hospital, and more actively support and help hospital staff, who often work in stressful and emotional situations with patients and families.

“I want to integrate pastoral care into the life of this institution,” Roberts said. “I see a real opportunity to build this program.”

Roberts, who also holds a bachelor’s in infant/toddler development and child life, began her career in child care, including working with children being placed in foster homes. She found the work tremendously gratifying, but also felt a calling to the ministry. After working in child care for a number of years, Roberts received a master’s in divinity from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., eventually becoming chaplain at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. Along the way, she began teaching student chaplains and serving as a lay minister in her church.

As hospital chaplain, Roberts finds a rewarding blend of her ministry and experience working with children in sometimes desperate situations: People may never need spiritual comfort more than when they’re sick in the hospital. “People tend to fall back on their faith in times of crisis,” she said. “I’m just happy I can be there to help them.”

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Media Contacts

Susan Roberts
University of Utah Hospital Chaplain ,
Phone: (801) 587-9064
Christopher Nelson
Director , University Health Care Public Affairs
Phone: (801) 581-7387

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