This health care worker nurtures spiritual wellness
Lancaster became Harris Health System’s spiritual care director in 2012, and he spent the previous 12 years at Texoma Medical Center in Denison, Texas. He originally attended the University of Texas with the dream of becoming a lawyer, but somewhere along the way, he realized his true calling was to go into ministry.
After spending several years as a pastor at various churches, he decided to go into hospital spiritual care, where he now oversees an entire staff of chaplains.
“I give oversight and direction to the spiritual care departments, the staff that works directly with patients and staff to meet their spiritual needs,” Lancaster said. “We have three clients that we answer to. That’s patients, their families and all the staff.”
Lancaster and his team play an important role in the medical process because health care is about more than taking care of physical suffering. It is also requires attention to the emotional and spiritual well-being of the patient and their loved ones.
“Spiritual care is an acknowledgment that humans are spiritual,” Lancaster said. “They may or may not be religious, but being human means we have some sense of spirituality to us in many different expressions and forms.”
In recent years, Lancaster has helped more than just those he works with, however. Five years ago, he and his wife Susan decided to adopt as a way to fill the void that was left when their grown children moved away from home.
The couple eventually chose to adopt a boy from China. Almost three years later, they returned to China to adopt a second boy.
“We had these two boys, and they came home speaking no English, and we spoke no Mandarin or Cantonese,” Lancaster said. “But you know what? It worked. We found how resilient they were and how responsive they were to a stable, loving family.”
The Lancasters would soon adopt two Ethiopian girls as well. The cultural diversity of their household was one of the main reasons they moved to the Houston area.
“We want them to know their culture and honor their cultures, and of course here, there’s so much more we can offer them in that way,” Lancaster said.
About Jeff Lancaster
Occupation: Spiritual care director for Harris Health System
Community Connection: Lancaster and his family live in Pearland
Fast Fact: Has two grown children who are living in Washington and Michigan
Chris Marshall is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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