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It took only seconds for the needle to slip from the arm of the patient with HIV and prick the finger of Eva Selhub, MD – but the moment was life-changing.

MGH celebrates Spiritual Care Week

09/Nov/2012

MIND BODY VICTORY: Polk, left, with Selhub

It took only seconds for the needle to slip from the arm of the patient with HIV and prick the finger of Eva Selhub, MD – but the moment was life-changing. It was June 1996, and Selhub, now a clinical associate in the MGH Department of Medicine, was a 28-year-old resident on her way to becoming an Intensive Care Unit pulmonologist at an area hospital.

Selhub would test negative for HIV infection, but the anxiety that followed the incident made her take a closer look at her professional goals. That stress, coupled with an ensuing period of loss and grief – within five months her father had a heart attack, both her grandfather and her dog died, and all her possessions were lost in an apartment fire – left her reeling emotionally and physically. “I lost my will to live,” Selhub says. “I felt punished. I wanted to know ‘why me?’ But the truth is, ‘why not me?’ It’s not personal. Life happens. It comes down to how you perceive it. You can be a victim or you can be a victor.”

Selhub spoke Oct. 22 during the annual MGH celebration of Spiritual Care Week, “Giving Voice to the Whole Person: Mind, Body and Spirit,” sponsored by the MGH Chaplaincy and held in conjunction with National Pastoral Care Week. During her presentation, “Merging Eastern and Western Medicine,” Selhub described how her life changed after she turned her focus to integrative medicine and embraced this new passion as a physician at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.

In addition to Selhub’s lecture, the Chaplaincy hosted a number of events to showcase its compassionate care and clinical pastoral expertise. There was a labyrinth walk in the MGH Chapel promoting personal reflection, a blessing of the hands in appreciation for the many tasks hands perform to provide comfort and care, and a display table in the White Lobby offering educational materials and resources.

“It was exhilarating to touch the lives of so many during the week,” says Chaplaincy Director Rev. John W. Polk. “It is our mission to awaken the spirit in each of us – patients, families and staff – as we seek healing, wholeness and being the best we can be.”



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