One night the emergency medical services (EMS) brought a Hispanic man into Brooke Army Medical Center’s (BAMC) emergency room after a motor vehicle accident. It quickly became apparent that he did not speak or understand English. The doctor shouted, “Who knows Spanish? Is there anyone here who knows Spanish?” It was twenty minutes before a bilingual nurse arrived to aid the medical staff in calming and treating the man. Precious minutes were lost as a result of the delay. Chaplain Bellin, a member of the trauma team, had put her hand on the patient’s shoulder as a gesture of comfort; but felt keenly how much more she could have helped had she been able to speak his language better.
Experiences like this one helped chaplain and author Rev. Karen L. Bellin, MDiv, ThM, to formulate her first CPE goal—to speak Spanish more fluently, and learn as much as she could about the culture and spirituality of Hispanics so that she could minister to them more effectively. In her book, Hispanic Ministry in a Medical Setting: A Clinical Pastoral Perspective, she shares the insights derived from her ministry with Hispanic patients and their families. Hospital chaplains who serve this growing minority will find indispensable information here to enable them to meet patients’ and their families’ spiritual needs with cultural sensitivity.