Spiritual Care Is Health Care: Learning How to Care for the Whole Person at the 2019 ISPEC

This article appears in the July 2019 HQ Update.

From July 9-11, 2019, HHMH participated in an international gathering of hospital chaplains and medical professionals to learn how to integrate spiritual care with medical treatment. Our goal was to develop a resource network of ministers to support hospital chaplains serving Buddhist patients throughout the State of Hawaii.

Dr. Trace Haythorn, PhD, Executive Director/CEO of The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) based in Atlanta, GA wrote: “I had the pleasure of serving as a member of the leadership team for an ISPEC program with Pacific Health Ministry, our ACPE Center in Honolulu. ISPEC is a program of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, founded by Dr. Christina Puchalski. The program brings together pairs or small groups from institutions, usually anchored by a spiritual care professional, to explore how we can more fully integrate spiritual care into our health care settings. Through work with case studies and standardized patients, teams not only develop new skills for assessing spiritual distress, they also deepen their knowledge and appreciation of one another.”

ISPEC 2019 - "welcome to our temple campus" display
Participants learned some about Buddhism and experienced chanting in the hondo prior to a lecture and panel presentation.

During this 3-day Workshop, Honolulu was host to about 70 participants of the 2019 ISPEC Training Session with attendees from the US Mainland, several countries from Asia and Africa and our own Hawaii. The ISPEC stands for “Interprofessional Spiritual Care Education Curriculum” and is endeavoring to make spiritual care of individuals become an integral part of health care. Rev. Blayne Higa was a member of the Course Faculty for the 2019 Training Session. Some Committee members of the HHMH Compassionate Care Committee like Rev. Yuika Hasebe, Rev. Shawn Yagi, Rev. Bert Sumikawa and Bishop Matsumoto attended together with others who have previous associations with Pacific Health Ministries like Dr. Dexter Mar, Rev. Sol Kalu and Ms. Mernie Miyasato-Crawford. Plans are to share learned knowledge, skills and experiences.

ISPEC 2019 - panel discussion in Annex Temple
Panel presentation in the Annex Temple.

On the eve of the conference July 8, Office of the Bishop and the Honolulu District Hongwanji Temples encouraged by Council President Dr. Dexter Mar hosted the Participants and also the local community to an Opening Reception at Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin at which time Buddhism including Jodo Shinshu and the significance of chanting and memorial services were shared so Buddhist perspectives could add to the richness. The highlight was the simultaneous Japanese chanting of “Hakkotsu no Sho” and recitation of the English Translation of Rennyo Shonin’s “On White Ashes.”

Following this introduction, refreshments and temple displays hosted by Honolulu Hongwanji Council followed and the evening culminated with a public lecture by Dr. Christina Puchalski and panel members.

Needless to say, the Opening Reception and Training Session were an enriching experience for all participants! We express our gratitude to Rev. Anke Flohr, Executive Director of Pacific Health Ministries (PHM) in Honolulu for coordinating not only the Training Session with ISPEC, but also for making the arrangement so Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii could be an integral part of the 2019 ISPEC Training Session. We will continue to work with PHM to develop the HHMH minister-PHM chaplain network to provide spiritual care for Buddhists receiving hospital and hospice care.

ISPEC 2019 Bishop Matsumoto with panelists
Bishop Eric Matsumoto (in robe) with Dr. Puchalski to his left and the panelists.
Welcome to Our Temple Campus display
Welcome displays from Honolulu District temples, an ikebana display, and refreshments were included at a reception for participants in the Hawaii Betsuin lounge.