Announcing New Volunteer Chaplaincy Program
Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013

NHCH is proud to announce our new chaplaincy program that consists of ten community volunteer chaplains, who offer spiritual comfort to patients and family members through the healing process with prayer, guidance and support.

“This new chaplaincy program will be an integral part of our holistic approach to patient care and healing at NHCH,” says Arielle Faith Michael, NHCH Director of Holistic Care Services.  Like other small community hospitals, NHCH is unable to afford a chaplain on staff, yet the need to provide patients and their families with spiritual support and prayer is a real priority.  “The hospital has had relationships with numerous community chaplains and church leaders for several years; however, we recently formalized these relationships and broadened the program in an effort to bring patients and their families even more spiritual comfort,” says Michael. 

The community volunteer chaplains are invited to “make rounds” offering spiritual comfort to inpatients, their families and hospital staff throughout the hospital, including:  Medical/Surgical, Critical Care Unit, Same Day Surgery, Emergency and Family Birthing.  “As Chaplains, we can spend time with patients in prayer, in nurturing conversation, or by just being nearby in supportive silence.  These gentle and caring acts can often help alleviate some of the anxiety many patients feel during stressful times,” says Buddhist Reverend Franco Acquaro, member of the hospital’s volunteer chaplaincy program.

Patients may ask for their own pastors; however, if their pastor is not available or the family does not regularly attend church, now a volunteer chaplain will be called.  NHCH volunteer chaplains include several religions and the following individuals:  Reverend Robert (Bob) Schwarzhaupt and Deacon Larry Ignacio from Annunciation Catholic Church;  Kahu Tyrone Reinhardt from Imiola Congregational Church; Buddhist Reverend Franco Acquaro from Amida Hawai’i and Psychologist at NHCH’s Kaheleaulani, a Native Hawaiian Health Program; Buddhist Reverend Kosho Yagi from Kamuela Hongwanji; Christian Reverends Sonny Shimaoka, Noleen Kua Mendes, Sioni Tilini, Peter Finch and Dennis Martin, Jr., from New Hope Church.

“Mahalo to NHCH for allowing us the opportunity to support the hospital and our community through their chaplaincy program,” says Sonny Shimaoka, Reverend at New Hope Church Waimea.  “This program creates a bridge enabling us to better support those who may desire spiritual guidance or comfort.”

Volunteer chaplains are official members of the NHCH Volunteer Program and can be identified easily by staff and patients by their hospital-issued identification badge, which clearly states “Chaplain”.  Volunteer chaplains were briefed on hospital protocols and are to follow the same strict patient rights and privacy guidelines as other hospital personnel under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  Chaplains are not to tell others that a patient is in the hospital without the patient’s permission, will not pray for a patient if asked not to and must leave a patient’s room upon request.  In addition, chaplains will not proselytize. 

For more information or if you are interested in joining the hospital’s volunteer chaplaincy program, please contact NHCH Director of Holistic Care Services, Arielle Faith Michael, at 808-881-4416.

Photo: top row (left to right): Franco Acquaro, Tyrone Reinhardt, Sioni Tilini, Sonny Shimaoka, Robert Schwarzhaupt. Second row (left to right): Kosho Yagi, Peter Finch, Noleen Kua Mendes.