Thrive by IU Health

May 25, 2023

IU Health chaplains are out and about caring for the community

IU Health chaplains are out and about caring for the community

They are often working quietly behind the scenes. These three chaplains are a vital part of IU Health’s community care team.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

It’s an ongoing initiative aimed at holistic health - caring for patients’ physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. Three outpatient chaplains are working in six primary care clinics providing an extra layer of support through spiritual counsel.

“We started hearing that one in five people visiting primary care clinics experience social isolation and loneliness,” said Megan Boardman, project manager of IU Health’s Congregational Care Network (CCN). A multi-faith program, CCN connects chaplains, churches, parishioners and neighborhoods throughout the state. The effort is part of IU Health’s community health outreach to help reduce social isolation.

Healthcare providers at IU Health’s Dunlap (formerly Family Medicine Center), Eagle Highlands, East Indy Connected Care, Georgetown, and University Primary Care clinics can connect patients with a chaplain upon request.

Dustin Hite has been a chaplain with IU Health for a year. He said his journey to healthcare chaplaincy has been a winding road, that began two decades ago.

“I’ve been in parish-based ministry for almost twenty years, and have been given the opportunity to support people as their pastor in the moments of greatest need. I have also had the privilege of serving as a chaplain with two public safety agencies. In both of these settings, I’ve seen how beneficial it is to have someone walk with you through the trials of life. But, for too many, spiritual care has been elusive and inaccessible to them. In the healthcare space, I have been given the chance to walk alongside patients as they strive for wholeness, not just for healing. It’s a unique gift I’ve been given, as patients have welcomed me into their lives. I could not feel more blessed.”

Notoshia Howard has been a chaplain with IU Health for seven years. She has been in the ministry for more than 30 years.

“I knew that God had called me to pastor and do ministry, but the route to get there and be in ministry was a struggle. I have always loved serving and being present with people. Praying for people, listening to people, and offering grief support to people whose grief was complicated or just trying to process the loss of a loved one, or cope with a new diagnosis,” said Howard. She was working on her Masters of Divinity at the same time her husband was completing his Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. “He thought it would be a good program for me to be able to do the type of ministry and care I loved doing. So, I completed a CPE Internship (IU Health Methodist Hospital), a yearlong CPE Residency Program (IU Health University Hospital).” She went on to complete a Clinical Pastoral Education Fellowship with IU Health.

“This program opened the door for me to bring Chaplaincy Ministry and Congregational Ministry together,” said Howard, who became the Congregational Care Network’s first chaplain fellow. During her time with IU Health, Howard has worked at the Family Medicine Center and in the emergency room, connecting patients to local congregations. She also pastors a congregation in Brownsburg, In. and is working on her doctoral degree at Christian Theological Seminary.

Robert “Rob” Brown has been a chaplain with IU Health for five years.

“I chose hospital/health care chaplaincy because I have a love for all people and like to help all people,” said Brown. “I knew early in my life that people like to gravitate to me. I knew that God was calling me to be a safe space and encouragement to people in need and suffering. If I can put a smile on a patient’s face or offer hope in their time of grief. I believe that I am following the second greatest commandment” ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”