Chaplain Melvin Janzen slips his hands into the pockets of his white lab coat as he inches closer to a bank of windows on the seventh floor of the UVA Medical Center. He pauses, staring out into the bright sun while reflecting on the previous few hours sitting with a family whose 10-day-old baby had been removed from life support. In this spot, Janzen says, he calls on his faith.
Like the other chaplains who frequent the halls of the UVA Medical Center, Janzen provides people facing some of life's greatest challenges with a sense of peace, patiently listening, offering caring words.
The counsel they offer is nondenominational and based on the principle that medical care goes hand in hand with spiritual care.
While there are several full-time chaplains on call, there are also student chaplains in residency, as is customary in a teaching hospital. They take seminars and classes and complete hands-on rotations as they hone the craft of delivering pastoral care.
The days can be like roller coasters, dipping at the lows when dealing with life-threatening traumas and death, and climbing to the highs when patients recover and are able to go home healthy.
"I try to meet people at their level of faith," says Stephone Coleman, a chaplaincy resident, "and just rely on my faith and being present to provide comfort."
What follows are photographs taken over the course of several weeks at the UVA Medical Center as the chaplains and chaplaincy residents went about their workdays.