VNA Celebrates Pastoral Care Week 2017

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VNA Celebrates Pastoral Care Week 2017


VNA Health Group is proud to observe National Pastoral Care Week, an opportunity to recognize specially-trained spiritual caregivers for the guidance they provide to patients and their families. Our hospice chaplains, from a variety of faiths, provide compassionate pastoral care to patients and their families as part of our comprehensive range of hospice and advanced care services. Much like nurses provide quality care towards our patients’ physical well-being, our hospice chaplains meet the spiritual, emotional and mental needs of patients and their families. Through gentle pastoral care, hospice chaplains bring comfort and spiritual strength as patients and families navigate the end-of-life process.


This year, we are celebrating Pastoral Care week with the theme: “Hospitality: Cultivating Inclusion” during the week of October 22nd.  This theme is especially fitting since our hospice chaplains care for all individuals regardless of their religious affiliation or preferences. Our chaplains quickly assess what matters most to patients to help them attain their highest level of comfort and peace while providing support to both family and VNA caregivers. We invite you to meet four of our hospice chaplains by reading their personal expressions, in their own words.


Reverend Jeffrey T. Garland, DMin, Ed.S, BCC
Hospice Chaplain, Barnabas Health Hospice

My journey as a Chaplain began in 1996 when I took an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. I found a love and passion for bedside ministry. Most seminarians seek to become the pastor of a church upon graduation, but my calling was to chaplaincy. Six months later, I enrolled in a one-year Clinical Pastoral Education program. I completed my first six months at New York Cornell Weil Hospital and the following six months at Memorial Sloan-Kettering as a resident chaplain.


Professional chaplaincy is more than holding the hand of a patient and sharing a prayer. A Board-Certified Chaplain operates as a trained chaplain who is committed to qualifications and competencies for professional practice and ethical conduct. A professional chaplain is capable of emptying oneself in order to be filled with the story of a patient or family member and remain non-judgmental. We demonstrate a knowledge and skill to meet people where they are. I'm proud to serve as a Board Certified Chaplain with Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice.


Chaplain Richard Banas, M.Div, JD
Spiritual Care Coordinator, VNA Health Group

I have always been committed to meeting the spiritual needs of our patients.  That commitment has led me from Fort Lee to Trenton and from Matawan to Flemington. I have visited patients from a variety of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds.  The common thread that connects all these patients and their families is not death, but love. Love is what gives meaning to my ministry as a hospice chaplain.


I came to hospice chaplaincy by accident.  I had previous careers in publishing as a magazine editor and in law as a prosecutor and defense attorney.  However, I found myself drawn to using my skills for a spiritual ministry. I returned to school and earned a Masters of Divinity degree from Drew University.  I initially served first as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hanover, New Jersey and then at Resurrection Church of East Hanover.


In between churches, I was asked by a friend to help out as a per diem hospice chaplain for VNA Health Group.  It was a vocation that I never even considered. My strength had always been preaching and outreach.  To my surprise, I found this new ministry to be wonderfully fulfilling.  It has caused me to grow as a pastor and as a person. This work is both challenging and inspirational.


Pastor Tanya Wood, LPC
Hospice Chaplain, VNA of Central Jersey

Through my many years of counseling experiences, spiritual and emotional care has played a big part in my life. This led me to follow what my heart has desired most, becoming a Hospice Chaplain.


Spiritual and emotional care play a significant role when a cure is not possible and the patient and family are faced with the end-of-life journey. Approaching death can bring spiritual questions and concerns. Patients and families can experience fears, anxieties, depression, and a sense of hopelessness. As a Hospice Chaplain, I am proud to have the opportunity to provide spiritual and emotional guidance, compassion, comfort, value, worth, encouraging words of comfort and support to patients and their families. Another opportunity is working beside and supporting my interdisciplinary team. It's another important part of my role as a Chaplain.


As a team we work together to provide the best medical, emotional and spiritual care for the needs of our patients and families. With thanks to the VNA, I work beside the finest Nurses, Social Workers and staff a Hospice Chaplain could ever hope for.





Reverend Fred May, BA, MA
Hospice Chaplain, VNA Health Group

I started my professional career as a fisheries scientist followed by a decent run on Wall Street in institutional fixed income sales, but all this time, the call to the ordained ministry grew stronger until there was no more resisting.


Ordination required one unit of clinical pastoral education, the one course I dreaded the most. Walking into the hospital room of a sick person that I didn’t even know did not intrigue me at first. After a while, however, I found that this was exactly the career that God had chosen for me. After ordination, I took four more units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and was eventually led to hospice.


In December 2001, I started with VNA hospice and the rest as they say, is history. It is truly a joy and a blessing to serve some of the most in need among us, those who are facing end-of-life and their families, in their own sacred space.


There have been many times when I wonder why anyone would even let me into their house. I still have difficulty understanding how I can enter a home as a total stranger and then leave an hour later with a hug and a friend.


I am so blessed to be able to work with these totally awesome and incredible people who have taught me so much. Hospice care is all about the patient and their family, but it only works to its fullest when we all work together as a team.


Thank you to my patients, thank you to my colleagues and most of all, thank you to Christ who has called upon me and supports me in this ministry of service.


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