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Before Shubha and Manju Manjunath brought 3-week-old Ishan home from the hospital after his open-heart surgery, they knew there was one stop they needed to make.

Following Hindu tradition, the family wanted to visit a temple to celebrate the occasion and express gratitude for the care that Ishan received in our cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU). They walked away from the beeps of the CVICU, down the halls of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and into the calming embrace of the hospital’s new Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary is a place of respite. Patients, families, and staff of any faith, or of none, can find space for reflection, prayer, or simply a moment of rest. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a welcoming atmosphere, anyone in need can find refuge within this sacred space.

“This space became their temple,” says Reverend Diana Brady, BSN, MDiv, BCC, Director of Chaplaincy Services. “Shubha appreciated the meditative music in the background and the sculpture that you can see through the window.”

Brady is one of seven chaplains at Packard Children’s. Chaplains are another important spiritual- and emotional-care resource for our families and care team members.

Throughout their time at Packard Children’s, Ishan’s family depended on his entire care team including cardiologist Rajesh Punn, MD; cardiothoracic surgeon Frank Hanley, MD; and chaplain Carolyn Glauz-Todrank, MDiv.

“We are so grateful for the holistic care we received from our doctors, nurses, and support staff,” says Manju. “Rev. Carolyn’s prayers and support were a strong pillar that made us believe and have faith that things will work out eventually.”

At Packard Children’s, our chaplains see families and hospital staff in their most hopeful, joyful, grief-filled, and complicated moments.

“Science and faith work together,” says Brady.

Brady herself was a registered nurse before she felt called to provide spiritual support to families during crises. She graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, is an ordained United Methodist pastor, and is board certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains. Her fellow chaplains come from a variety of faiths and are all trained to help those of other faiths as well. The team made more than 6,800 bedside visits last year.

A Support for Staff

While Brady says bedside visits are the heart of her team’s work, she also believes one of her most important roles is helping to facilitate Schwartz Rounds, a bi-monthly gathering that provides a safe, supportive space where team members can discuss the emotional toll of caring for critically ill children day after day, year after year.

“Everyone here who interacts with patients and families comes with a kind heart, a compassionate presence, and that’s all a part of spiritual care,” Brady says. She adds that the goal of Schwartz Rounds is to help staff realize they aren’t alone and to build resiliency so they can continue to provide the best care they can, to every child and family.

Grateful for You

Brady and her colleagues are deeply grateful for the financial support they receive from the community, including Children’s Fund donors like you. Because of your gifts, chaplains are available to families of all faiths, and the Sanctuary is equipped with a wide range of spiritual resources, including prayer rugs, a menorah, a Catholic crucifix, a Protestant cross, a Buddhist singing bowl, a Hindu Ganesh, and more.

“We consider donors’ gifts part of our sacred work,” Brady says. “They’re in it with us. We are mindful of the diversity in our community and are very intentional in discerning what we should do with our gifts.”

Brady and her team participate in ethics committee meetings, and can help medical team members develop care plans that respect a family’s faith and its important role in their child’s well-being.

“We are so privileged to be part of the most intimate moments in families’ lives,” she says.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of the Children's Fund Update

Photography by Douglas Peck.