Methodist Hospital Department of Pastoral Care and Clinical Hypnotherapy 2000 (from left to right): 

Chaplain Allan Anderson,  Chaplain Ron Rosato, Father Maurice Shepherd (died Nov 2001), Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D. (retired from Pastoral Care at end of 2000 to become Director of Clinical Hypnotherapy), Chaplain Judy Nelson (became Director of Pastoral Care Jan 1 2001),  Secretaries - Kim Purdum and Mona St.Germain



ANGELS IN THE HALLWAYS: VIM AND VIGOR: SPRING 2000: Published by McMurry Publishing Inc. McMurry Campus Center 1010 E. Missouri Ave. Phoenix, Az. 85014 "Angels In the Hallways" is the conclusion of an article "Touched by an Angel" which features the main characters of the hit CBS TV program by the same name.

METHODIST HOSPITAL'S STRONG SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION: "Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared...If thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies and will afflict them that afflict thee. And my angel shall go before thee...(Ex. 23:30, 22-23)

Do you believe in angels? If the answer to that frequently asked question is "yes," it is almost always followed by a story of a personal event that strongly suggests the presence or intervention of an angel.

A drowning man feels someone lift him to shore but there is no one else in the water; a stranger helps a young mother change a flat tire and disappears immediately afterward; a terminally ill cancer patient finds renewed strength and joy, just a few hours before he dies; a seriously ill child begins to smile and laugh as her fever drops unexpectedly.

If you're looking for evidence of angels at work, miracles in action or special blessings, you may want to visit Methodist Hospital, the only Christian-based facility in Greater New Orleans area. Open your heart and you will see hundreds of examples of God's love and the work of angels. Founded by inspiration, love and concern for their fellow man by members of the Gentilly United Methodist Church, the hospital's spiritual foundation continues to grow stronger each year.

"At Methodist we are committed to treating all aspects of the patient's care and well-being," says director of pastoral services Chaplain Paul Durbin. "That includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual care, which also extends to the patient's family and loved ones. From the helping hands of a hospital volunteer to a physician's innovative approach to treatment and from the guidance and vision in developing a strategic business plan for growth to the commitment of highly skilled personnel, Methodist Hospital demonstrates the hands of God and His angels at work every day.

Reflecting its religious beginnings and commitment to a Christian-based approach to healthcare, Methodist offers a comprehensive Pastoral Care Program staffed by three full-time certified hospital chaplains who offer comfort and spiritual guidance to patients and their families 24 hours a day. The chaplains are not only on call in times of specific need, but a member of the pastoral care department also visits each patient daily.

"Total patient care incorporated the best for the body, the mind and the spirit," says Methodist Hospital Chaplain Judy Nelson. "We know that optimum physical care begins when an individual is at ease with his or her concerns, fears and spiritual needs. Studies indicate that when a patient received spiritual comfort, the length of a hospital stay is reduced and the healing process accelerated."

"Faith, hope and love are among the virtues that Christians follow to ensure a productive life on earth while paving the journey toward Heaven," says Chaplain Ron Rosato. "Such virtues are also significant in the healing process, as we believe that God's love will prevail in restoring an individual's health and energy. We see, on a daily basis, that those with a strong, spiritual belief find the determination, peace of mind and the ability to work through a difficult time."

Numerous studies indicate that the power of positive thinking is a beneficial component in the healing process. Cancer patients who "fight" the disease with an optimistic attitude, for example, have a higher survival rate that those who become withdrawn and depressed. The Methodist chaplains note that a positive attitude reinforced with prayer and spiritual guidance, definitely enhances the healing process.

"As chaplains, we have the opportunity of being part of the healthcare team, but outside the realm of delivering physical care," Nelson says. "In that manner, the hospital chaplain is also a liaison, offering comfort and care that extends beyond the patient's bedside to his or her family and friends." "Additionally, we find that many patients feel more comfortable communicating physical problems to a chaplain, rather than their physician or nurse," Durbin says. "Our unique role as spiritual caretakers, who also understand the patient's physical condition, is an advantage in objectively offering crisis intervention and support."

In Times of Grief: Although it is easy to acknowledge the presence of a spiritual being and thank God when an individual recovers or a cancer patient is in a state of remission for example, spiritual care and comfort is also vital in times of grief. "Grief is a natural aftermath of loss that is personal and different for every one," Nelson says. "Everyone reacts differently to loss," Durbin explains. "Grief does not necessarily begin with the death of a loved one. Sometimes the grieving process may start before death, or it may come with a significant life change, such as the loss of employment, beginning a new job or moving into a different neighborhood."

Although the Methodist Hospital chaplains are experienced grief counselors, they cannot predict how someone will react to a specific situation. "The first reaction to grief may range from depression and shock to anger and despair," Durbin continues. "Some individuals immediately turn to religion as a comfort and others may block their reaction to grief with medication."

"Grief is nature's way of meeting a broken heart with several defined stages that are necessary for recovery and resolution," Nelson says. "Religious faith may provide comfort, but it is important to recognize that there is a physical side and an emotional side of grief that must be addressed. It also is important to recognize that medication may only mask grief on a temporary basis."

The chaplains note that most people experience a roller-coaster ride through emotional experiences as they move forward and back again through various phases of mourning which include shock, disbelief, depression, anger and blame, guilt, confusion, disinterest and resolution. "These are natural processes that lead to recovery," Rosato says.

"There are those who blame the patient's doctor the nurses, the hospital staff, and take on blame themselves as well," Durbin says. "Family members and friends may feel that something should have been done to prevent the death, even in cases of terminal cancer. Sometimes blame leads to or merges with feelings of anger that may than lead to guilt. "God is often blamed for death, " he continues. "Why would God let my mother die,@ for example. "Why would God let such a young person suffer so much?"

Spiritual Nourishment: He emphasized that there is nothing wrong in questioning God's reason. "God loves us even when we question Him. Expressing grief does not deny God or the existence of an afterlife. God himself has said, 'Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.' Even though grief is a natural process, it is not a process best experienced alone .

At Methodist Hospital, a chaplain responds to all deaths offering support and guidance for family members, friends and hospital staff. "We respond as counselors to discuss spiritual concerns, not to preach or to convert anyone to another faith," Durbin says. "My role is not one of an evangelist, rather a reminder to people of their faith and resources."

Nelson adds that the hospital's pastoral care department focuses on an individual's faith and helps strengthen that faith when appropriate. "We recognize that there are differences in religions and strive to open channels of communication between the patient and his own pastor or minister.

"There is a spiritual hunger that needs to be fed," she continues. "In times of grief, spiritual nourishment is an important aspect to the resolution and acceptance of loss."


Recent research indicates the positive connection between spirituality and physical health. That's not news to Methodist Hospital's Pastoral Services Department. Guided by principles of Christianity and one of few religions-based hospitals in the Greater New Orleans area, Methodist has long acknowledged the combined benefits of faith and healing.

"Although prayers for recovery are frequently answered, faith is the foundation for a more peaceful, content death when those prayers are seemingly unanswered," says Department Director Chaplain Paul Durbin.

"Illness influences a person to reflect on the spiritual side of life. Sometimes, an individual is searching for a way to die in peace," says Catholic Chaplain Father Maurice Shepherd.

From words of encouragement to opening the door to reconciliation, from prayers of thanksgiving to grief counseling for families and staff, the Pastoral Services staff are available 24 hours a day seven days a week to respond to the spiritual needs of all patients.

"A chaplain is called in for every death at Methodist," Chaplain Durbin emphasizes, "unless the patient's own minister is preferred or the family does not want our services. In my 23 years at Methodist, less than ten families have turned down spiritual assistance."

The department's responsibilities extend far beyond spiritual comfort to patients and their families, however. "We are ministers to the staff, offering support and encouragement," adds Chaplain Judy Nelson, who sponsors Tuesday and Thursday morning devotional services specifically for nurses and other hospital caregivers.

"Hospital personnel often need spiritual comforting and grief counseling when encountering the death of patients they have developed a strong bond with," adds Chaplain Durbin. "Patients that die unexpectedly of those who have been in the hospital for long periods of time, for example, may lead staff and family members to request spiritual reinforcement."

"Methodist personnel frequently share spiritual moments with patients," adds Chaplain Allen Anderson. "Bedside prayers and praying together before surgery is one of the elements of care that contributes to the Hospital's family atmosphere."

For Chaplain Ron Rosato, a mission to bring more spirituality to the medical staff is a personal challenge. "It's working," he says. "More and more physicians are attending religious retreats and volunteering for medical missions to help the less fortunate in other countries."

Additional responsibility for the department include special programs, such as the blessing of the hands and throats services; memorial services for staff and employees; Medicine and Religion week; community and educational seminars and also administering the Good Samaritaii Fund and the Hospital's financial assistance programs.

The department, through Chaplain Durbin, also offers hypnotherapy services.

The Koelemay Chapel on the fourth floor is always open to patients and visitors for reflection and prayer and Sunday morning non-denominational services are held at 9:30am each week.


An Interview with Chaplain Durbin by Patricia F. Danflous. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that is the Blessed Trinity you would expect to learn more about from Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D. And you do. As a Methodist minister of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, his teachings, counseling and writings emphasize the wonders and mysteries of the Trinity which foster spiritual growth.

But Chaplain Durbin also recognizes the human trinity - body, mind and spirit. "Each of us is a trinity within ourselves," he says. "we are made up of body, mind and spirit. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings."

Director of pastoral care at Methodist Hospital, Chaplain Durbin emphasizes that spiritual healing is very much a part of physical healing. "To neglect any one area of wellness is to do less than should be done," he says.

"The three aspects of our being are so different and yet so integrated that one part of the human trinity cannot be influenced without having some result on the other two," Chaplain Durbin continues. "If you have a physical problem, it affects you emotionally and spiritually. If you have an emotional problem, it affects you physically and spiritually. If you have a spiritual problem, it affects you both emotionally and physically.

"For example," he continues, "think back to a recent physical illness and consider whether or not you were under some emotional stress or pressure prior to the illness. For minor illness, such as a headache or cold, the situation may have occurred only a short time before the illness. For more serious conditions, the stressful even may have taken place several months before."

He emphasizes that not all illness is the result of emotional stress and all emotional stress does not lead to illness, but we are all more susceptible to illness at times of emotional stress.

"Life is more than just being alive mentally and physically", Chaplain Durbin says. "To be the whole person we were meant to be by our Creator, we have to be alive spiritually as well as physically and mentally. An airplane does not cease to be an airplane when it sits in the hangar or taxies along the runway, but its true nature as an airplane becomes apparent only when it is airborne. Similarly, a person is a human being even when he or she is functioning only on the physical or psychological level, but one shows his or her essential humanness when he rises to the spiritual dimensions.

"When one is functioning on all levels-physically, emotionally and spiritually-life is more joyful, more productive and more healthy", he states.

Chaplain Durbin and Methodist Hospital Chaplain Judy Nelson see daily confirmations that spiritual care enhances healing. Although the chaplains experience "miracles" on a regular basis, prayers and meditation do not always lead to recovery from illness. "But unexpected recoveries do occur," Chaplain Durbin says. "Spirituality does have a positive impact on moving the healing process forward, and it especially helps patients and their families cope with illness."

Methodist Hospital's chaplains are available to all patients, their families and the hospital staff on a 24-hour-a-day basis. The chaplains greet each patient within 48 hours of admission with each patient seeing either Chaplain Durbin or Chaplain Nelson on a daily basis. "The emotional and spiritual needs of the family and the hospital staff are also important", says Chaplain Nelson. "we respond to emergences, codes and deaths, unless the family requests no spiritual counseling or the individual's own minister is available."

Chaplain Nelson emphasizes that the role of the chaplain extends beyond that of an ordained minister and differs in many aspects. "We are not visiting patients and their families to preach religious conversion or repentance," she says. "and we do not want to take the place of the individual's own religious leaders."

Chaplain Durbin emphasizes that Methodist Hospital's Pastoral Care Department carefully monitors those who visit patients. "We welcome an individual's minister at any time during the patient's stay," he says. "However, we are also concerned with our patient's right to privacy."

"Our role is a connecting one, providing a link to spiritual, emotional and physical development", Chaplain Nelson explains. "Oftentimes, religion may not even be discussed while we are visiting with a patient."

Chaplain Nelson, who coordinates a series of pastoral education programs for ministers and lay leaders, emphasizes that hospital chaplains are trained in pastoral counseling, not just religion. "We participate in extensive, intensive training, which emphasizes spirituality as a part of the entire healing process", she says. "A chaplain knows how to perceive what the patient says. We learn how to listen, how to be present and how to be sensitive to a particular need at the appropriate time."

Chaplains not only participate in specialized training, but follow stringent American Hospital Association guidelines in working with patients and their families. "Our training includes theology as well as pastoral care", say Chaplain Nelson. "this provides us with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of human behavior and clinical methodology to better facilitate the patient's spiritual, emotional, mental and social welfare."

Chaplain Durbin explains that one of a chaplain's responsibilities is helping the patient or family member express his or her feelings to God. "Talking to God is praying," he says. "But sometimes individuals are afraid to express anger or discouragement to God. Our training helps us understand the words and ways to reach the patient's spiritual and emotional needs that surround physical wellness."

"There are many anxieties associated with hospitalization, whatever the need of the illness or condition", says Chaplain Nelson. "For all of us, hospitalization experience that causes us to question priorities of our life. You are never same the person after a hospital stay, you are to a different place."

No matter what religious faith an individual professes, or whether he or she a strong belief in God, faith is tested during physical or emotional illness. Spiritual support provides the necessary connection for wellness and healing.

HYPNOTHERAPY AND HEALING: FROM VIM AND VIGOR: SUMMER 1992 An interview with Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D. by Patricia F. Danflous: Methodist Hospital Chaplain Paul Durbin, Ph.D. brings a unique approach to his chaplaincy responsibilities. He uses hypnotherapy.

A certified internationally recognized hypnotherapist, Chaplain Durbin employs the self-hypnosis method when recommended by the patient's physician, to hasten the healing process, reduce pain and lessen the side effects of the chemotherapy. Additionally he uses hypnosis and teaches self-hypnosis techniques to help individual s get rid of undesirable habits, control weight; improve memory concentration and study habits; improve self-confidence and athletic ability; improve subconscious communication; encourage relaxation and help with individual goal-setting.

Of course, the first question most people ask Chaplain Durbin is "Why does a person of religious faith need hypnosis?" The Chaplain's answer reflects his strong faith, Jesus said, "I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly. I believe hypnosis to be a gift of God that helps people experience a more abundant life."

Hypnotherapy is an extremely valuable tool in helping a patient cope with chronic pain, for example. According to Chaplain Durbin, the technique has a positive effect because it influences the subconscious mind. "The conscious mind is the logical part of our mind," he says. "The subconscious mind is not logical; it controls our breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure, heartbeat and other similar functions. It also seeks to meet our deepest needs, expectations and desires."

A good example of conscious versus subconscious mind comes when a person wants to stop smoking. Chaplain Durbin says the conscious minds says "stop smoking", but the subconscious mind says, "How are you going to make it through the day without a cigarette?" If 10 percent of your mind is telling you to stop , and 90 percent is telling you to pick up another cigarette, you will more than likely light up a cigarette. With hypnosis, the subconscious mind is reprogrammed so it assists instead of blocking changes in life.

"There are many misconceptions about hypnotherapy," Chaplain Durbin adds. "the biggest myth is that the subject is under the complete control of the hypnotist. This is not so, for any suggestion is strictly censored and the patient remembers everything that occurs during the hypnotherapy session. A person will not do anything under hypnosis that is against his or her principles or moral standards.

"Hypnosis does not replace a physician's care, and it is not a substitute for necessary medication", he emphasizes. "But it is a powerful tool activated by the power of an individual's belief system. Believe it will work, expect it to work, visualize it working and practice it frequently. You will see improvements as you move forward toward attaining life's goals."

Upon receipt of the IHHF Sealah Award for Hypnotherapy, Chaplain Durbin was inducted into the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame in March,1992.