Delivering Spirtual Care with Carepassion

By: Cheryl Abrams

Tom Anderson - Crouse Carepassion Award

When you or a family member are in the hospital, you may want an individual just like Chaplain Tom Anderson at your bedside.

“Tom has a gift from God. He approaches each individual to learn their story and to share a piece of their heart,” wrote Palliative Care Medical Director Melinda McMinn, MD, in her nomination of Tom for a Crouse Health Carepassion Award.

Last week, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Medical Officer Seth Kronenberg, MD, presented the special award to Tom. He was joined (left to right) by Rev. Katherine Lufkin Day, MA, MDiv, BCC, managing chaplain of the Rosamond Gifford Spiritual Care Center; Nancy Williams, Ed.D, MSN, RN, CPXP, director, Office of Patient Experience; and Mike Radel, RN, a Master of Nursing student from Chamberlain College. Tom  is our Catholic chaplain and has completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at SUNY Upstate CPE Center with Rev. Terry Culbertson. He is jointly appointed by InterFaith Works of Central New York and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.

Shared Moment of Humanity
Dr. McMinn conveyed in words what it feels like when Tom is ministering to our patients: “In his presence, time stands still and all are present in one shared moment of solemn, common humanity. With every situation, a patchwork of human experience converges at the bedside and becomes woven into intimate fellowship with genuine love.”

Creating a sense of dignity, respect and peace is especially profound and comforting when a life is fragile and loss perhaps imminent. When their pastor was unable to get to the hospital, a family agreed to allow Tom to be with them in prayer. He went to the patient’s room immediately and he gave them his usual undivided attention.

Living the Mission of Carepassion
“He gracefully asked each family member present if they would share a story, engaging them in an opportunity for life review and to be the patient’s voice,” wrote Dr. McMinn. “He delivered a beautiful prayer into which he wove details, as though he had known the patient and family their whole lives.”

He does this routinely, yet always with an attentive, heartfelt and gentle approach that providers and staff also appreciate. The ceramic plate Dr. Kronenberg presented to Tom (and all Carepassion award recipients) is engraved appropriately with a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “People will never forget how you made them feel.”

Once you have met Tom, you won’t forget how, in any moment, he has made you feel.

We thank you, Tom, and all our chaplains for the life affirming presence you share with patients and families.


Carepassion definition

Each quarter, we honor the recipients of our Carepassion Awards, which are supported by the Paul Kronenberg, MD, Employee Recognition Fund of the Crouse Health Foundation. Recipients are nominated for being ‘defining examples of Carepassion.’

Cheryl Abrams earned her M.S. in Communications Management from Syracuse University's Newhouse School and is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, NY.

Share this