When Patrick Hansen was working his way through seminary, he knew what he wanted to do when he finished his schooling. "It was a lifelong dream of mine to work with people in a hospital setting, when they have the greatest needs in their lives," he says. "I wanted to be there to be able to support patients and their families."
In his role as a hospital chaplain at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, he's had many opportunities to do just that. Hansen joined Mayo Clinic in 1999. Today, he's Arizona's chaplain supervisor and the supervisor of the Living Donor Advocacy Program. He views his work as an opportunity to realize his life's dream in a unique way that might not have been available to him in other medical centers.
"Mayo has an atmosphere that fosters values greater than ourselves," says Hansen. "Here we're able to support, encourage, strengthen and heal people, all in a culture of collaboration with and respect for one another. We come together as a team with varied ideas and perspectives, and we put it all together with a singular focus to take care of those patients.
Hansen cites an experience he had in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as a dramatic example. He was summoned to the hospital late one night to see a woman who was dying. Her daughter was going to be married a week later, but it was clear the mother wouldn't live that long. The family asked if a wedding could be performed in the hospital room the next day. In the morning, Hansen spoke to the manager of the ICU unit to find out if a ceremony could be done within the unit.
"The manager knew the situation. She knew how sick this woman was," says Hansen. "Her immediate response to me was, 'We can do better than that.'"
With permission from the patient's health care team, Housekeeping and Food Services were called, and they agreed to help arrange a wedding ceremony in the hospital atrium, complete with flowers and a cake. A staff member who played the piano offered to provide music. The nurses in the ICU helped the mother get dressed and fix her hair in preparation for the ceremony. The entire event was planned in six hours.
"That evening, the patient was wheeled down to the atrium, and we had the most beautiful wedding you could imagine, with a wonderful reception following," says Hansen. "I talked with the woman afterward. It was so meaningful for her to see her daughter's wedding. She said it was the most spiritual event she had in her life. She was discharged three days later, and she died in her daughter's arms. But before she went, she had that beautiful evening, and it was because of all the people at Mayo who got excited about it and worked together to make it happen for her. To me, that's Mayo Clinic."