The hospitalization and illness of a child can be a deeply stressful and chaotic time. While our pediatric medical specialists help heal the body, UNC Children’s pastoral care service can help lift the spirit, providing much-needed emotional support in your family’s hour of need.
Our full-time pediatric chaplain is available to provide emotional and spiritual support to all people of all faith traditions and spiritual backgrounds. From a personal crisis of faith to more general questions of meaning and purpose, our pediatric chaplain can walk alongside you and your family as you journey through a hospitalization.
Spiritual Services, Day or Night
UNC Children’s offers pastoral care anytime you need it. A chaplain is available to provide spiritual and emotional support to inpatients, families and staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We offer:
- Pastoral visits – A chaplain can meet one-on-one or offer larger family support. Call on a chaplain when difficult decisions need to made, when doctors are sharing information about the medical plan of care, when you or other family members are struggling to cope with the realities of a medical crisis, or at end of life.
- Support groups – Beyond those offered at UNC Medical Center, a chaplain may help you find an appropriate support group in your community depending on your child’s diagnosis. Such groups usually meet a couple of times a month, are free, and provide various resources.
- Worship services – All are welcome to attend traditional worship service offered at the John M. Reeves All-Faiths Chapel each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For those who cannot attend in person, the service can be viewed in all inpatient rooms on channel 7. Muslim prayers are offered in this chapel on Fridays at 1 p.m.
- Religious rituals – During times of uncertainty and stress, participating in meaningful spiritual activities can bring relief and help you feel grounded in your life. A chaplain is available to offer religious rituals at any time during the hospitalization, including, among other things:
- Prayers before or after surgery
- Celebrating the sacraments of baptism and communion
- Blessing a child and family before being discharged home
- Coming with anointing oil when peace is needed or death is near
- Offering a bedside service with healing Scriptures
- Grief support – If you are in need of grief support at any time, please have your nurse page the chaplain, who will offer individualized support as well as provide listings of local resources and work with you to determine what support would be of most help. We also offer grief support materials throughout the hospital – in all chapels and in many ICU waiting rooms, for example. We can even deliver them to your inpatient room upon request.
Our Pediatric Chaplain
Hadley Kifner, a member of UNC Medical Center’s pastoral care team, is N.C. Children’s Hospital’s dedicated pediatric chaplain. A wife and mother, Hadley is a graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ tradition, and board certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains.
Prior to joining UNC’s pastoral care staff in 2009, Hadley traveled as a missionary in Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, edited children’s books in New York City, served as director of children and family programs in the rural church setting, and coordinated volunteers at a hospital hospitality house.
Chapels and Other Meditative Spaces
There are four chapels located throughout UNC Medical Center, including one meant specifically for N.C. Children’s Hospital. The Broyhill Children’s Chapel is located on ground floor of N.C. Memorial Hospital, right next to the Cranberry Corner gift shop. The children’s chapel has floor-to-ceiling windows, a sky light, and comfortable bench seating. You’ll find a prayer book where petitions and intercessions may be left for a chaplain to pray over. Copies of “Day by Day” daily interfaith prayers, Sustaining Scriptures, CareNotes, and other supportive printed materials are also available here.
The John M. Reeves All-Faiths Chapel, UNC Medical Center’s main chapel, is located on the first floor of N.C. Memorial Hospital, and there are additional spaces for reflection, prayer, and meditation in N.C. Cancer Hospital and the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center (on the fifth floor of N.C. Memorial Hospital). All four chapels are open and available for prayer and meditation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For many folks, spirituality is experienced and expressed in nature, outdoors. If that’s you, you may find respite in our walking labyrinth, a meditative walking maze used by various religious traditions around the world. It is located just outside of the Cancer Hospital, one floor beneath Starbucks. A chaplain can you show you how to use it and even walk it with you if you desire company.
If you need help finding any of these spiritual and meditative spaces, simply ask a member of your care team or a guest services representative at any of the lobby information desks.
Other Spritual Resources
Sometimes reading information on how to cope during a stressful time is helpful. We offer:
- CareNotes – CareNotes is a national organization that publishes small booklets. These are available free of charge in the Broyhill Children’s Chapel and inpatient waiting rooms (or can even be delivered to your room upon request) and cover a variety of topics including:
- When You're Sick or in the Hospital - Healing Help for Kids
- A Coping Guide for Kids
- A Booklet of Prayers for All Your Cares
- Caring For Yourself When You Are a Caregiver (A Special Guide for Parents)
- Taking The Anxiety and Stress of a Hospitalization One Day at a Time
- Bibles and other sacred texts – Gideons International donates King James versions of the New Testament and Psalms, available for free to anyone in the hospital. Other versions/translations available on a limited basis, as well as copies of other sacred texts like the Koran and Talmud.
Do you want to contact your pastor back home? Has your child’s youth minister asked about visiting? Would you appreciate a priest coming to offer an anointing at the bedside or bring communion? Would it be helpful for a representative of your faith group to be present when you go over signed consent forms?
UNC Medical Center’s pastoral care team has strong allies in the community with various religious groups, denominations, and faith communities. For example, we work closely with the priests and Eucharistic ministers from St. Thomas More, the local Catholic Church. We also have contacts with the Islam Society of Raleigh, Hillel Jewish Organization of Chapel Hill, and the Jehovah’s Witness community.
If you would like us to arrange for your own faith leader to visit you in the hospital, or if you have a pastoral need that we are not equipped to meet, we will be sure to help you find the support you need.