USCF traces its founding to surgeon Hugh Huger Toland, MD (1806 – 1880). Dr. Toland came to San Francisco from South Carolina specifically to establish a medical college, which was first located in the North Beach district of San Francisco in 1864. In 1873 Toland Medical College was deeded to the Regents of the University of California, which had been founded five years earlier, and it became UC’s Medical Department; the following year it opened its doors to women students. In 1975 it became a free-standing campus of the University of California. It is the only one of the ten UC campuses that is devoted solely to health sciences. UCSF has four schools: Medicine, founded in 1864; Pharmacy, founded in 1872; Dentistry, founded in 1881; and Nursing, founded in 1939.
With its mission of “caring, healing, teaching, and discovering,” UCSF Medical Center is a quaternary care center that is recognized for excellence in kidney and liver transplantation, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, women’s health, and pediatrics. The medical center serves many people from all over Northern California and across the globe who have been referred by specialists and hospitals for diagnosis and treatment, while also functioning as a primary care provider for local patients. Medical and surgical inpatient care (over 28,000 admissions annually) is provided at Long, Moffitt, and Mt. Zion Hospitals. Outpatient care (over 880,000 visits annually) is provided through the Ambulatory Care Centers at the Parnassus Campus and the Mt. Zion Campus. Psychiatric inpatient and outpatient treatment is provided through the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute.
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and pastoral care began approximately at the same time. In 1960 the Rev. Elmer Laursen was hired by Lutheran Social Services of Northern California (LSS) to be the chaplain at UCSF. The first CPE program began in the summer of 1961 under Rev. Laursen’s supervision. CPE has continued year-round since that time to the present. In 1967, St John of God Catholic Parish was established by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco to serve the Catholic patients, students and staff of the UCSF Medical Center.
In 1975 the Rev. Rodney Seeger was hired by LSS to replace Rev. Laursen as chaplain and CPE supervisor at UCSF. At the Parnassus campus a Roman Catholic priest was hired in 1978 by the Medical Center at UCSF. In 1990 when UCSF and Mt. Zion Hospital were integrated, a provision of that integration agreement was to maintain a Jewish presence at Mt. Zion. In 1993 Rabbi Jeffery Silberman was hired by Mt. Zion Health System to be the chaplain and CPE supervisor at Mt. Zion. Similar pastoral care programs are present at both campuses.
On November 1, 1997, as a response to the pressure of the ever-changing landscape of health care reimbursement, UCSF Medical Center and Stanford Hospital and Clinics merged to form UCSF Stanford Health Care, a private, not-for-profit medical center. In June 1998, following the departure of Rabbi Silberman, Rev. Seeger was asked to coordinate the spiritual care programs at Mt. Zion and Parnassus. On December 23, 1999, the inpatient section of Mt. Zion Hospital was closed, leaving only outpatient services at that site. By April 1, 2000, the merger creating UCSF Stanford Health Care was dissolved. UCSF Medical Center is now reintegrated into the University of California, San Francisco. A variety of inpatient units have reopened at Mt. Zion, including the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Women’s Health Center, a variety of post-surgery Intensive Care Units, and a Palliative Care Unit.
The Rev. Dr. Michele R. Shields was hired as Director of Spiritual Care Services when Rev. Seeger retired in 2005. The Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark joined the UCSF Spiritual Care Department in June 2010 as Manager of Spiritual Care Services. In June 2008, Kate Perdigon-Arce became the Administrative Analyst for the department. The Rev. Will Hocker and Pegi Walker became staff chaplains at UCSF in August 2012.
Spiritual Care Services has grown enormously since 2005. The Code Blue, Code White (Pediatrics), and Critical Incident Debriefing program has served over 976 staff members, who have voluntarily attended debriefings to mitigate their stress and improve their self-care. The Music is Good Medicine program received a Rankin Booster grant from Partners in Care, the UCSF Medical Center Auxiliary. Twenty-three active groups or individuals now volunteer to sing or play music at patients’ bedsides. Seventeen presentations are available to staff and students; new presentations relevant to clinicians are always being developed by chaplains to meet UCSF’s needs. There are now assigned chaplains to the Heart Failure Team, Home Health, and Women’s Options Center. Spiritual Care Services facilitates retreats for staff and provides weekly support groups for patients and family members. Spiritual Care has won numerous grants for various projects, such as increasing the availability of ritual/religious objects for patients and supporting Music is Good Medicine. Guided Meditation CD’s were recorded by the Director and duplicated for patients and staff as a free resource. Many new resource materials were developed, which have been useful and increased the Department’s visibility in the Medical Center. The UCSF SCS Department became one of the first Twitter feeds for a Spiritual Care Department in the nation. Since 2005, 2.5 FTE staff positions have been added to the Spiritual Care department, even as the Medical Center was downsizing. The Clinical Pastoral Education program grew from five paid chaplain residents to ten. Two extended units of CPE were established, along with a regular summer unit, in addition to the residency program. An on-call sleep room was obtained. CPE students began doing Palliative Care Service rotations. These are only a few of the many changes which have taken place between August 2005 and the present.