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  • Chaplain Rafael Macaranas Receives Dr. Joe Rotella Compassion Award

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Rafael Macaranas has served as a chaplain with Hosparus since 2002. During his time here he has provided outstanding spiritual counseling and guidance for thousands of patients and their family members. He currently works with about 100 patients and families each month.

After graduating with a Doctorate of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Rafael moved to Louisville from New York City after Sept. 11, 2001 and began his Hosparus career working as a chaplain with the Kourageous Kids program and at the Hosparus Inpatient Care Center. “This compassion award affirms the commitment I made in 1987 as an ordained minister to serve with compassion to others at no cost,” Rafael says. “I was assigned as a seminary professor/educator for three years, associate pastor for three years, hospital chaplain for 8 years and as a hospice chaplain for 14 years. It is testament to the commitment of caring for the sick and the dying through 28 years.”

He now serves as a nursing home hospice chaplain and is humbled by his calling to provide patients and their families with serenity and comfort as they journey toward a peaceful transition.

“I believe in my heart that our hospice patients do not want to suffer and die alone. So many times, I hear them say, ‘I am a scared to die, stay with me… pray for me and my family.’ Presence and support, holding their hands, reconnecting them to their beliefs and faith and providing comfort are what matters. Respect, kindness and unconditional love are what we share with each other,” he says.

According to Hosparus Louisville Manager Charlene Natale, Rafael exemplifies the essence of compassion in everything he does. “He goes to great lengths with patients, families and team members to make everyone feel they are the most important person in his life,” she says.

Rafael continues to be inspired by members of his team. “This compassion award is a tribute to the most kind-hearted people who work with me day in and day out: my team members – nurses, social workers, doctors, volunteers, counselors, staff, nurse practitioners, my dedicated supervisor, and leaders,” Rafael says. “Team members go out there unselfishly to serve, and when we come back we have each other as a cushion to lean on for support and guidance in our team. I truly believe that this is our Compassion Team Award,” he says.

His working relationship with Dr. Joe Rotella continues to be meaningful to Rafael. “It was a privilege working with Dr. Joe from 2002 to 2014. He has always been an advocate of spiritual care and continues to be a giant influence to hospice and palliative care both locally and nationally,” Rafael explains. “Dr. Joe has a huge all-embracing heart for our staff and above all our patients and families. In the past, I used to say that Dr. Joe was the doctor of the body and I am the doctor of the soul, and we collaborate well. After working with him I believe he has been both a doctor of the body and spirit all along. I am honored to receive this Hosparus Compassion Award in his name.”

As a Filipino immigrant who came to this country 25 years ago, Rafael understands that compassion transcends continents and races. He feels blessed to serve as a hospice chaplain to all patients – no matter what their background, orientation or faith may be.

He also cherishes the support he receives from his wife Karen and nine-year-old daughter Irina. “They both believe in what I am doing and are very understanding when I need to leave in the middle of the night to spend time with a patient,” he says. “It’s also important to say that we continue to follow up with bereaved family members with grief counseling support even after loved ones move on.” Compassion carries on in our hearts and also touches all those we work with doing hospice care.”