Although once taken for granted, the spiritual care of patients is becoming part of mainstream medicine. The Spiritual Care Service at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel plays an important role in patient care. The hospital’s ‘Poetic Pharmacy,’ recently filled a creative prescription for soul care that no pharmacist can match.
The Spiritual Care Service (SCS) at Rambam is a national leader providing emotional and spiritual support to patients from all cultural backgrounds with serious health conditions, and experiencing emotional turmoil. Recently, the SCS came up with a prescription that touched the hearts of patients, visitors, and Rambam staff.
Ayelet Weil Nebensal, one of nine spiritual caregivers at Rambam, adapted an existing idea and created a ‘Poetic Pharmacy’ at Rambam. Everyone passing by would receive a few words of encouragement via a poem.
Spiritual care giver, Ayelet Weil Nebensal, with
Professor Zaher Azzam, director of the Division of Internal Medicine
Rabbi Michael Schultz, head of Rambam’s SCS, says, “It is amazing how a kind word can raise a smile and give a good feeling.” When Nebensal raised the idea, Rabbi Schultz encouraged it. “Poems often resonate with us in ways that we cannot articulate; they give voice to our emotions, help us feel less alone and able to face our fears, and raise our spirits with their beauty” he adds.
The staff members of Rambam’s Spiritual Care Service encouraged hospital patients, visitors, and other hospital staff to complete a short questionnaire, identifying their feelings at that moment. Each was then prescribed a unique ‘dose of medicine’ – an inspiring and encouraging poem in a test tube. In addition to our patients’ health and emotional challenges, Rambam employees face multiple challenges in their professional and personal lives.
Using poems of outstanding international poets translated into many different languages reflects Rambam’s core multicultural principles. “Being able to read a poem in their mother tongue especially touched the hearts of the Arabic and Russian speakers who visited our Poetic Pharmacy,” Rabbi Schultz elaborates.
“We distributed hundreds of poems, and when we saw all the happy faces, we knew this prescription worked,” Rabbi Schultz concludes, “We strongly recommend it.”
Rambam is a national leader in the field of spiritual care. In 2022, our SCS helped 2,120 oncology, hematology, cardiac, and pediatric patients and 1,249 family members. One hundred and seventy-one hospital staff members also used the service.
(L-R) Rabbi Mike Schultz, Rivki Yanir, and Nabila Awad from the Spiritual Care Service.