The spirit of compassion Stanford Hospital and Clinics’ Spiritual Care Service tends to ailing patients and their souls

Rev. John Hester leaned over Cheryl Deraiche’s hospital bed in Stanford Hospital and delivered Holy Communion last week. Deraiche, who is receiving medical treatment for leukemia, received the holy wafer on her tongue and accepted Hester’s blessing. During her first hospital stay in October, Deraiche received Communion six days a week.

“I was a single mom working full time. My whole life changed overnight. Having the spiritual support really helped me get through that. It has helped me bridge those two lives,” she said.

Each day chaplains and volunteers from Spiritual Care Services at Stanford Hospital and Clinics visit hundreds of patients to deliver a kind of healing that medical interventions, surgeries and treatments cannot make whole. Spiritual care offers respite from pain and suffering and offers a balm to anxious souls, patients and practitioners said.

Sometimes help comes in the form of prayer; at other times it involves administering the sacraments. It can be about listening or just being present. Or volunteers or clergy might bring an item the sick person has wanted, such as clothing or a blanket, said Hester, the Spiritual Care associate director and volunteer-program coordinator.

More than once, Hester has used creativity and daring to help ease suffering, he said. MORE.

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About The Rev. Thomas C. Jackson

Ordained to the priesthood in December, 2010.
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