One compassionate word, action, or thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy. —Thich Nhat Hanh
The Department of Pastoral Care at UNC Hospitals is committed to caring for the spiritual needs of patients, families, and staff. We provide spiritual support to people of all faith traditions and are readily available to explore spiritual questions and concerns that may arise during hospitalization.
Spirituality is a vital part of human wholeness and plays an important role in the healing process. Understanding this, our mission is to assist patients, families and staff as they face the emotional and spiritual impact of illness and crisis. Chaplains help people deal with issues of fear, loneliness, ethical values, questions of meaning, hopelessness and hope.
Each staff chaplain seeks to provide resources from an individual’s own faith or spiritual tradition and is available to help patients and families explore the comfort, hope and strength that these traditions provide. A chaplain is available to provide spiritual and emotional support to inpatients and families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here are some of the services we offer (please click on each title below to find out more):
- Spirituality Groups
- Worship Services
- Chapels/Meditative Space Locations
- Pastoral Visits
- Community Resources
- Ethical Issues
- Religious Rituals
- Spiritual Tools and Resources
- Bereavement Support
Sometimes reading information on how to cope during a stressful time can be helpful. CareNotes is a national organization that publishes small booklets on a variety of topics including Handling Grief as A Man, When Someone You Love Is Suffering, Facing Cancer As a Family, etc. Copies of these booklets are free and available in our main office the John M Reeves Chapel, ICU waiting rooms and various other locations throughout the hospital. You can always call the department and request Care Notes.
A chaplain is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, should you desire a pastoral visit to your room for spiritual counsel, emotional support, prayer, or a nonjudgmental presence while you work through a concern or worry. Chaplains are also available to make a pastoral visit at the end of life, when difficult decisions need to made, when doctors are sharing information about the medical plan of care, and/or when family members are struggling to cope with the realities of a medical crisis. To request a pastoral visit M-F, 8:00am to 4:30pm, please call our main office at 919.966.4021. During evenings and weekends, please call the hospital operation at 919.966.4131 and request that the on-call chaplain be paged.
Our department has strong allies in the community with various religious groups, denominations, and faith communities. For example, we work closely with the priests and Eucharistic ministers from St. Thomas More, the local Catholic Church. We also have contacts with the Islam Society of Raleigh, Hillel Jewish Organization of Chapel Hill, and the Jehovah’s Witness community. If you would like us to arrange for your own faith leader to visit you in the hospital or you have a pastoral need that we are not equipped to meet, we will be sure to help you find the support you need.
Ethical Issues (how to make a consult)
Sometimes a hospitalization can bring up an ethical issue or concern. UNC Hospitals has an Ethics Committee available for consult to work through such issues. To request an ethics consult, please call 919.843-1470.
Rituals (blessings, baptisms, naming ceremonies, prayers at time of death)
We are available to offer religious rituals at any time during your hospitalization. We can offer a blessing when death is near, celebrate the sacraments of baptism and communion, offer prayers before or after surgery, at the time of death, or when peace is needed. To request a chaplain to perform a religious ritual, M-F, 8:00am to 4:30pm, please call our main office at 919.966.4021. During evenings and weekends, please call the hospital operation at 919.966.4131 and request that the on-call chaplain be paged.
Chapels / Meditative Spaces / Services of Worship
There are 4 chapels and one meditative space located throughout UNC Hospitals. All of these spaces are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are available for prayer and meditation. The John M. Reeves All-Faiths Chapel, the main chapel, is located on the first floor of UNC Memorial Hospital. A traditional worship service is offered in this chapel each Sunday at 10:30am and all are welcome. For those who cannot attend the service in person, the service can be viewed in all inpatient hospital rooms on channel 7. Muslim prayers are also offered in this chapel on Fridays. The Broyhill Children’s Chapel is located in the ground floor of NC Memorial Hospital, just beside the Cranberry Corner gift shop. The new NC Cancer Hospital also provides two peaceful spaces for reflection: one small chapel and one mediation room. There is also a small prayer chapel located at the Burn Center on the 5th floor of the UNC Memorial Hospital. You can get directions to any of these spaces from the Information Desk in any hospital.
Healing happens on many levels (physical, spiritual, emotional) and is the state of
coming into balance and harmony with our highest purpose. Our department maintains
a collection of spiritual resources from various traditions and practices that may aid in
healing. These resources are available for anyone to use during normal business working
- Mandalas are tools for meditation. A circle or mandala invites one’s attention and one begins to focus. When one concentrates upon the circle, one’s breath deepens and heart rate decreases.
- Crystal Singing Bowls are tools for meditation and sound healing. Crystal bowls contain the qualities of amplification, storage, transfer and transformation.
Grief support materials are located throughout the hospital – in all chapels, in many ICU waiting rooms, and upon request, they can be delivered to your inpatient room.
The labyrinth, a series of concentric circles making just one
path with no wrong turns or dead-ends, has been with us for thousands of
years. It is an archetype for life’s journey found in all religious
traditions in various forms around the world. Labyrinths are meditation
tools for transformation. They are a way of praying or meditating
that is automatically effective. Through the use of these sacred circles,
many people are finding a way to relieve stress and connect with their inner
selves and the Divine. For more information about the
labyrinth, click HERE.
For more information about the labyrinth, click HERE.
There are various inpatient and family support groups. For instance, in the NC Neurosciences Hospital, spirituality groups meet several times throughout the week; in the NC Children’s Hospital, there is a support group for parents of children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit each Wednesday with hot tea and snacks provided.
Gideons International donates King James versions of the New Testament and Psalms that are available for free to anyone in the hospital. There are also other versions/translations available on a limited basis when when have them. We also can loan large-print versions if needed. Chaplains are happy to bring Bibles to patient rooms upon request. Simply call our main office at 6-4021.
Copyright 2010 | Department of Pastoral Care
101 Manning Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, Tele: 919.966.4021, Fax: 919.843.0330