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NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue Receives Renewed Grant for the Chaplain Residency Program as Four New Chaplains Graduate

Chaplain Residents have been key for patients and staff during pandemic

Grant was provided by Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

Jun 30, 2021

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue celebrated the graduation of four chaplain residents and the award of a $300,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for the hospital’s Chaplain Residency Program. The graduates served as chaplain residents during an extremely challenging year as New York City endured the COVID-19 pandemic. They ministered to patients in the hospital without family members or loved ones by their side, to patients’ family members by phone or video, and to hospital staff caring for extremely ill and dying patients.

This year’s $300,000 grant will pay salaries of the new class of chaplain residents starting July 1 and program logistics. Last year the program was awarded over $500,000, which paid salaries for the chaplain residents and covered the cost of the program. The yearlong Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training program requires chaplain residents to participate in a two-week hospital orientation, after which each chaplain resident embarks on a year of independently visiting patients and providing spiritual care. There’s also an educational component, organized by three trimesters and a research component. Each chaplain resident is assigned three clinical care units: an intensive care unit, a general medicine unit and a psychiatric unit. Each of the three units focuses on the development of the chaplain resident for a career in health care chaplaincy, however, the education is designed to benefit any career path they choose.

“This year our chaplain residents were critical in our fight against COVID-19, as they were the communication bridge between patients, families and staff,” said William Hicks, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

“The Covid-19 pandemic presented the greatest challenge to the program, the hospital, and the world at large,” said Rabbi Mollie Cantor, Program Director and ACPE Certified Educator. She said the chaplain residents and hospital staff had to overcome their fear: “Fear of being ill, of bringing Covid 19 home to our families, and a fear of not doing enough. The impact of witnessing people die alone, without friends or family, created a vicarious trauma for the residents.”

“As someone fresh into ministry and trying to discern this call to service, my experience here, during COVID, has been life altering. My patients at Bellevue have forever changed me, and this place will be the fire that shapes my work going forward,” said Bryan Mealer, Chaplain Resident.

On Thursday, the Department of Spiritual Care celebrated the graduation of the 2020-2021 class of Chaplain Residents.

  • Bryan Mealer, who will return to Union Theological Seminary to complete his Master of Divinity
  • Simon Adigwe, who will remain at Bellevue
  • Jennifer Thom, who’s seeking a healthcare chaplaincy position
  • Jacob Gonzalez, who will attend Yale Law School, where the dean called to praise him for his compassion and self-awareness demonstrated when reflecting on his experiences as a chaplain residency at Bellevue

“We appreciate your service during this unprecedented time and we know you will bring compassion and strength wherever you land,” Hicks said.


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