Emphasizing Spiritual Care in Medical Care

Barbara Shefelton (left), a Bon Secours Hampton Roads chaplain, believes a patient’s physical health is improved when also caring for the patient’s spiritual and emotional health.

“There is a very strong connection among physical health, social health and emotional health,” said Bon Secours Hampton Roads Chaplain Barbara Shefelton. “The support we give people, in typically the worst days of their lives, remind them of that connection between body and spirit.”

Shefelton, a cancer survivor, knows this firsthand. She also learned this when her first child was born at 27 weeks. Now that child and a second daughter teach Shefelton the importance of balance. It’s not necessarily about faith, said Chaplain Bonnie Eason in Hampton Roads. It’s about a person’s spirit and making someone comfortable or offering support in times of distress.

She told the story of a hospitalized woman who didn’t speak English. Eason’s gift of a Spanish Bible and rosary eased her nerves. Eason also remembered a patient who wanted to give her grandchildren cookies when they visited her at the hospital. Eason and a few nurses purchased two dozen cookies for her.

“As humans we all share a spiritual connection,” Eason said. “We all
can do something to help others.”

Signs You Could Use More Balance

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Short-tempered
  • Repeated bouts of illness
  • Unusual level of stress
  • Sense that something’s not right

How to Achieve More Balance

  • Spiritual life, faith and prayer
  • Learn to say no; learn to let go
  • Ask for help and accept help
  • Forgive yourself, be flexible, laugh
  • Surround yourself with supportive loved ones

+ Learn more about Spiritual Care Services in Hampton Roads.

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