In 1885, Sister Mary Wood, an Episcopal nun from the San Francisco area, saw a desperate need for health care in her adopted home and opened the nine-bed Los Angeles Hospital and Home for Invalids. After the Diocese of Los Angeles was carved from the statewide Diocese of California in 1897, it took charge of the facility, which had been renamed Hospital of the Good Samaritan in honor of a generous donor who stepped in when help was needed.
Today Good Samaritan Hospital, with its 408 beds, 18 surgical suites, 625 medical staff members and state-of-the-art facilities, continues as an independent institution of the diocese. Its chaplaincy program, though including clergy and lay ministers of different faiths to serve its ever-changing neighborhood, still continues under the auspices of the Episcopal Church.
In 1899, by vote of convention, the diocese designated offerings given at its congregations on Thanksgiving Day to support the work of the hospital — a custom still observed by some congregations. With the support of Bishop John Harvey Taylor, the Rev. Michael Bell, current director of pastoral care, is asking churches of the diocese to revive this practice to help support the chaplaincy program.
“Providing robust, interfaith chaplaincy and pastoral and spiritual care to our hospital staff, patients and families depends more and more on financial gifts from individuals, organizations, and charitable foundations,” says Bell. The hospital’s operating budget continues to strain under challenges in healthcare financing nationally and locally, but we remain committed to serving the disproportionate share of patients in our neighborhood struggling to afford preventative healthcare and insurance. Thanksgiving gifts of any size from the offerings collected in your congregations will help us sustain our chaplaincy and the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE program that provides formation for so many ministers in our diocese as well as a meaningful spiritual care to our diverse hospital community.”
To contribute, congregations and individuals can mail checks payable to Good Samaritan Hospital (write “CPE Fund” in the memo line) to Good Samaritan Hospital, Pastoral Care Department, 1225 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90017. At any time of year, contributions may be made here. For more information, contact Bell at email@example.com.