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Fernando Ona

Clinical Associate Professor, Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University (United States)
Funded Research Project Title: Wonder/Wander: Communities Strengthening Spiritual Care at a Safety-net Hospital

Project title: Wonder/Wander: Communities Strengthening Spiritual Care at a Safety-net Hospital

Fernando’s project aims to evaluate an interactive trauma-informed, community-based spiritual care exhibition at a safety-net hospital. An interactive exhibition entitled: Wander/Wonder will invite the Boston Medical Center (BMC) community to participate in an interactive spiritual care exhibit in the main lobby and atrium of the hospital and, adhering to current COVID-19 protocols, provide comments, insights, thoughts, suggestions, etc. about spiritual care provision, financing and strengthening at the largest safety-net hospital in New England. This research will engage with community-based participatory methods that utilize three interactive, experiential stations about spiritual care. The interactive, touch screen computers will provide an opportunity for the BMC community to share their experiences, thoughts, practices, etc. with spiritual care at BMC. Focused questions and prompts will guide participants regarding spiritual care, the importance of spiritual care provision in their contexts and how BMC’s spiritual care currently supports them. Next to the opening interactive computer kiosk, several stations with tables and chairs will also support the making of prayer beads, walking a labyrinth, lighting battery operated candles, writing intentions, thoughts or prayers, and a series of self-guided meditations. At the end of these activities, a second kiosk will invite participants to share their experiences about the activities. When participants are done with any combination of these interactive activities, they will be led to the living wall mural. This living wall mural will be a writable self-adhesive whiteboard wall with decal stickers to encourage participants to reflect on spiritual care systems and provision at Boston Medical Center. At the end of the living mural, a final kiosk will survey participants on their experiences with the living wall and the opportunity to share their ideas on how to strengthen spiritual care. The open-ended questionnaire (on a computer) will ask focused questions about how participants connect their experiences with the mission and delivery of spiritual care at BMC and how they envision sustaining spiritual care at BMC. The research team will monitor responses and bring together data collected from the kiosks and murals to prepare the data for discussion in community forums.

This community-based participatory project will be implemented at Boston Medical Center (BMC). This project will work with the Spiritual Care department at BMC and the network of interfaith volunteers and organizations that support the department. The project will work closely with BMC’s Media and Communications Department along with the various interfaith organizations and networks that support BMC.

The analysis will support policy making for state and Federal contexts regarding rights-based approaches to spiritual care provision and financing contributing to financial sustainability through mechanisms such as community benefits and more. Finally, analysis will contribute to implementation science and highlight the contributions of spiritual care to safety-net healthcare environments. This research hopes to reinforce BMC's commitment to maintaining and sustaining interfaith community partnerships and integrating a consistent mechanism for community integration in spiritual care provision at BMC. Additionally, this partnership hopes to strengthen the community and academic partnerships with BMC to support efforts to scale public participatory installations that can support other safety-net healthcare contexts and their ability to provide spiritual care.