Connect Live

Connect Live | December 2, 2021
Story 66

This week, join host Joyce Newmyer for the latest news from across the organization, and welcome special guests from Adventist Health Portland as they share how clinical pastoral education (CPE) brings a clinical mindset to chaplaincy work.

Joyce Newmyer: Welcome to Connect Live at Adventist Health. I'm Joyce Newmyer, the chief culture officer here at Adventist Health and your host for Connect Live. Live this week, we'll be talking about a welcome to Chris Champlin, clinical pastoral education at Adventist Health Portland and restoring lives. A welcome for Chris Champlin.

Last month, Rick Rawson, president of Adventist Health and Rideout retired after 38 years of service in healthcare. We're thankful to Operations Executive, Daniel Chibaya, who graciously is serving as the interim president until the arrival this month of Chris Champlin. We're delighted that Chris, who's been the chief strategy officer for Dignity Health's greater Sacramento division for six years and the central coast division for 13 years is now joining as the new president of Adventist Health and Rideout.

Chris was responsible for achieving short- and long-term growth goals for the company's highest revenue producing division, including a physician network, virtual care, value based contract performance, a clinic for COVID-19 long hauler syndrome and an expansion strategy of two new hospitals and multiple ambulatory clinics. So a wealth of experience coming to Adventist Health, so welcome, Chris.

Today, I'm delighted to welcome our guests Sandraneta Smith-Hall, Leo Zakhariya and Kyle King. Sandranita, you're a chaplain for Adventist Health Portland. Leo, you serve as the clinical pastoral education supervisor for Adventist Health Portland. Kyle you're the president of Adventist Health Portland. Thank you all three of you for joining me.

Leo Zakhariya: Thank you for having us.

Sandraneta Smith Hall: Thank you.

Joyce Newmyer: So Leo, I want to start with you. What is clinical pastoral education or CPE? And how is it different from traditional hospital chaplaincy?

Leo Zakhariya: Joyce, traditional chaplain hospital chaplaincy was done by people who had some spiritual background. Traditionally it was retired ministers who were elders or deacons or laypeople who believed in God. So they would come and pray with the patients, read the Bible, sing and support them.

Clinical pastoral education is quite different. It is inviting chaplains to receive a specialized training, to work with patients in the hospital setting. So the mindset behind this... to develop a clinical identity, which employs a principle to practice and then analyze what you are practicing. Modify what you need to modify to change it to be appropriate with the patient. And then you apply it again. And then again you are practicing it. You are analyzing it until you develop that clinical mindset. And this is what makes the difference between traditional chaplaincy or hospital chaplaincy and clinically based chaplaincy.

Joyce Newmyer: Oh, that's interesting. So it sounds like the chaplains then become part of the care team? I love that.

Leo Zakhariya: Yes, indeed.

Joyce Newmyer: So Sandraneta, why did you choose to pursue CPE training and certification? How did this become a thing for you?

Sandraneta Smith Hall: I believe in the ministry of presence. I know that chaplaincy is the ministry of being present. CPE taught me how to be present. I found that many times we live in the past, or we're thinking about the future. We're not here, right here, right now. I was encouraged... I was told, "You have a gift of being able to connect with people," one.

Two, I realized that I love the mission of our hospital. Living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. And CPE helped me to develop the skill sets I need to connect with people very quickly, and to help relieve the suffering of people somewhere, somehow, each day. So that is why I decided to stick with it. Especially sticking to and staying the course, particularly after unit one.

Joyce Newmyer: Yeah. And we'll talk about unit one. So Sandranita, as I've told you before I had the privilege of being a family member of a patient where you came in and prayed before surgery with us. And I agree, you have a gift. It was a very, very powerful word. And we were thankful for that.

Sandraneta Smith Hall: Thank you, praise God. Thank you!

Joyce Newmyer: So Leo, I've heard people say that that first unit of CPE is gut wrenching work, but that everyone should be able to do it. So tell me about what's going on with this legend of unit one.

Leo Zakhariya: Joyce, indeed that is a very good term, gut wrenching work. And it is so because you have to face your own self in that first unit. A meaning, you have to face your own defense mechanisms. What you like about yourself, what you don't like about yourself and why you are reacting or one is reacting or responding in certain ways. That when we are in the patient's room we make sure that we are not there to support and lick our own wounds, but to be fully present for the patient.

So in that sense, if you put it this way; it is like stripping your soul naked and looking in the mirror at yourself. And there is a lot of trauma. There is a lot of unpleasant memories that you have to face and deal with in order to find your own balance to yourself. That when you are in the patient's room, you are given your full attention to the patient and work with the patient. So in that sense, yes it is gut wrenching because you have to address your own brokenness, your own pains, your own sufferings and your own hopes and shattered hopes.

Joyce Newmyer: Oh, that helps explain that a lot to help deal with your own stuff so you can be there for other people. Wow.

Leo Zakhariya: Yes.

Joyce Newmyer: No wonder it's so meaningful. So Sandranita, what's been most surprising or unexpected for you in CPE training?

Sandraneta Smith Hall: The most surprising thing was that pain does not kill you. You may feel in great depth, the mistakes and having to look at yourself in your nakedness and your brokenness and recognize that all of this is what makes you. All of these experiences is what has brought to where you are. But being able to look at it and accept it and embrace it has freed me to be so much more accepting to other people. I thought I was pretty open with people and accepting, but I'm even more so. I realize I'm a lot less judgmental. I'm willing to take people wherever they are from wherever they come from. I'm not their judge. I'm just there to be with them and walk beside people as they're going through their challenges and their joys for that matter.

So that's been very surprising, that you can love people in spite of not liking certain things about them, you can love. CPE has taught me how to love on a much deeper level than I ever thought was possible. That's been very surprising to me and it gets better. It's it doesn't end after four units. You continue growing and learning and giving and doing. It's inexhaustible.

And finally, in conclusion Joyce, it's that I have a clearer sense of how much God loves us. We're not here to proselytize with the patients or with anybody. My job is to love. And CPE has taught me, and is continuing to teach me how to love in a way that I'm understanding how God loves me and he wants me to love other people. And he's doing that through me, through this process. It's amazing! It is transformative, life transformative.

Joyce Newmyer: Wow that's beautiful! Thank you for sharing that with us. Kyle, I'm going to finish up with you. How does having a CPE training program enhance the services that Adventist Health Portland provides?

Kyle King: Yeah. Joyce, as you can tell, we don't view this as a program or a training program that we do here. We view this as a foundation and a fundamental part of who we are. I think this is one of the most beautiful expressions of our mission in life and in action every single day in this hospital. So I am so proud of this program. We get to have eight to 12 people here every day with their whole life. Their whole work, time and career is spent around thinking about how they care emotionally and spiritually for our patients, for our patients' families.

And also equally as important, for the staff members that work here. And it is so beautiful to be a part of this program and to watch these highly trained, highly skilled individuals pour their lives into associates, patients, families, and impact our community in just beautiful and amazing ways. So to me this is as key and as fundamental to anything and any other program we run here.

Joyce Newmyer: A beautiful expression of our mission! Kyle, Sandranita, and Leo, thank you for everything you do to make Adventist Health Portland exceptional, and bring CPE to life. So thank you for being with me today.

Sandraneta Smith Hall: Thank you for having us.

Leo Zakhariya: Thank you.

Kyle King: Thank you.

Joyce Newmyer: Good to see you all. Our final story today is about restoring lives. How can a hospital best serve its neighbors, including those who have no place to call home? Perhaps it begins with offering help that restores as well as heals.

A new grant funded program at Adventist's Health Kern County Hospitals is focused on restoring the lives of people affected by homelessness. On average each year, about 1,700 hospital visits at Adventist Health Bakersfield alone, are by people who are experiencing homelessness. Learn more about this new program and program coordinator, Erica Martinez and how they're changing lives and providing a path to restoration at

Friends, thank you for connecting live, and we'll see you here again next week. Until then, let's be a force for good.