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2007 Press Releases
Morton Plant Mease and The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast Team to Train Medical Chaplains

September 17, 2007

Clearwater – The pairing of two Pinellas County leaders in their fields – Morton Plant Mease Health Care and The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast – brings a first of its kind Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) collaboration to the area. Funded by generous grants from the Allegany Franciscan Foundation, and officially sanctioned by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc, (ACPE), the goal of the partnership is to offer CPE to qualified candidates and thus better serve the spiritual needs of patients and families. CPE accreditation is equated with excellence – the gold standard for professional chaplains in health care. Beginning this fall, students selected for the program will serve internships at hospitals in the Morton Plant Mease system and at hospice houses operated by The Hospice. As the program progresses, several students will be selected as interns, working and learning at Morton Plant Mease and The Hospice’s sites. CPE is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faith traditions into supervised encounter with persons in crisis. From the intense involvement with those in need and insights from peers and teachers, the students develop a deeper understanding of those who seek their ministry and greater awareness of themselves. Moreover, CPE helps students to develop deeper interpersonal and interprofessional relationships. Chaplains and others in spiritual ministry typically must have some CPE credits.

In choosing to become partners in CPE, leaders of Morton Plant Mease Health Care and The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast recognize the rich experience their alliance will be able to offer their students as they interact with patients in hospital and hospice settings. Mary J. Labyak, president and executive director of The Hospice said, “We are so grateful to the funders who have seen the value of putting their financial backing into this unique program. We have always recognized how vital spiritual care is to so many of those we serve and our CPE students will be enriched and enlightened by those who guide their pathways whether teacher or patient. There is much to learn from each.”

“Meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of our patients and their families can be a key part of the healing process,” noted Philip K. Beauchamp, president and chief executive officer, Morton Plant Mease Health Care. “Morton Plant Mease is pleased and honored to have the opportunity to serve as a host site for this program and is looking forward to helping to bring additional chaplains into the community.”

The CPE program will be led by the Rev. Steven F. Smith (PhD), a ACPE certified supervisor and manager of the CPE program for Morton Plant Mease Health Care. In addition to the Allegany grant the program has received funding from the Hospice of the Suncoast Foundation and the Morton Plant Mease Foundation.


Beth Hardy, Morton Plant Mease Health Care, (727) 298-6199, or Louise I. Cleary, Director of Public Relations & Marketing, The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, (727) 523-3391,