Hospitals guilty of Buddhist ‘neglect’

By Cameron Lucadou-Wells

BUDDHIST patients have been spiritually neglected in the hospital system, a report by the Buddhist Council of Victoria stated last week.

The Report on the Buddhist Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Project found temples in Melbourne – including five in Greater Dandenong – were finding it hard to help devotees during their hospital visits.

Problems included language barriers, negotiating hospital layouts and finding suitable spaces for families to perform chants, prayers and rituals – especially when a loved one was nearing death or had died.

Report author Venerable Bom Hyon Suniam said at a launch at Hoa Nghiem Temple in Springvale South that temples wanted to connect with hospital pastoral care staff to help their patients.

The Victorian hospital chaplaincy system, which was founded on Christian principles in the 1950s, has only started to engage with other faiths in the past two years.

Ms Suniam said hospital data on patient faiths was poor. To find an appropriate chaplain for a dying patient, she needed to know the patient’s language, ethnic orientation and which Buddhist tradition they followed. “If you don’t know who’s in hospital, you can’t give proper care to them.”