Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) ICU nurse Michelle Foss is thrilled to have put the finishing touches on her most recent project, the “Get to Know You” board in the ICU. Thanks to her efforts, employees now have a place to turn when they need information—about jobs, baby showers, social events or prayer requests.

“I noticed there were a lot of new people on our staff,” Foss said. “I was looking for ways for everybody to connect as a unit.”

Stories of associate involvement are becoming more common in SMMC after the hospital recently revamped its Spiritual Ambassadors program.

A Florida Hospital nurse who wanted his spirituality to have an impact in his job founded the original Spiritual Ambassadors organization, which started in 2004. SMMC debuted its improved ambassadors program in early 2013, welcoming more than 80 new members, including Foss. Guided by their faith, these ambassadors are working to promote a helpful, friendly environment for hospital patients and associates.

Training, Supporting, Sharing

“The goal of the Spiritual Ambassador is to create an atmosphere of trust to ensure that hope is felt in the hearts of all our fellow associates and in the hearts of patients,” said Mark Stoddart, SMMC’s administrative director of Spiritual Wellness. “The program provides training, it provides support, and it provides a community of caring believers who carry out the mission.”

The newest Spiritual Ambassadors have hit the ground running, working on ways to expand the growing program. This past summer, SMMC ambassadors tackled one of their biggest missions yet—a food pantry for fellow associates.

“It doesn’t take much—a short illness, a spouse may lose a job, or children may get sick and someone has to take time off work,” Stoddart said. “To preserve the dignity of our colleagues, they can discreetly come to a member of our team and receive food supplies.”

SMMC’s ambassadors are extending Christ-centered care to patients as well as associates. One maintenance team ambassador prays with hospital patients before he starts his morning rounds. “We want to make sure that when they are discharged, patients have been touched in some way spiritually,” Stoddart added.

Recently, a group of ambassadors began reaching out beyond hospital walls. With the goal of ministering to the poor and homeless, these associates visited City Union Mission, a homeless shelter in Kansas City, Missouri. Together, they cooked and served dinner for more than 50 men and fellowshipped with them following the meal. Stoddart said the group has plans to return each month through October.

Engaging Proactively

Associates such as Foss are grateful for the outlet the program provides. She credits Spiritual Ambassadors with her new ability to use her faith in an effort to support and engage her fellow associates.

“I like the idea of being able to invest in your peers,” Foss said. “I’ve learned that there are so many things you can do, but you have to instigate them. With the Spiritual Ambassadors, I can be proactive and spark people’s thinking about getting involved to provide encouragement and support for others.”

Author Lauren Kassien is a student at Drake University and a writer for Shawnee Mission Medical Center.