Hospital chaplain leans on faith for patients and to fight against discrimination

Joo Young Hong, the chaplain at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital for over a decade, says it wasn’t always her plan but that she fell in love with it.

News 12 Staff

May 19, 2021, 5:16 PM

Updated 1,123 days ago

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Nurses and doctors have been heroes during the pandemic, but hospital chaplains have also played an important role for patients.
Joo Young Hong, the chaplain at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital for over a decade, says it wasn’t always her plan but that she fell in love with it.
“I found the work very meaningful and sacred because I was being with people in their most vulnerable times when they’re very scared,” Hong says.
As a Korean American, she learned at a young age how important diversity is when her grandfather got sick.
“He couldn’t communicate that he was hungry, he tried with gestures to indicate that he was hungry, but they didn’t know,” Hong says. “That story stayed with me. I realized there’s importance to be able to one communicate in the language that people are comfortable with.”
Her job evolved when it became risky to rush to someone’s bedside and they had to use their cellphones to be more accessible.
As hate crimes against Asian Americans increased during the pandemic, Hong recalls being faced with experiences with discrimination.
She says that a girl came up to her on St. Patrick’s Day and asked why she wouldn’t wear green and then pinched her really hard.
“She had this aggression toward me for being different,” Hong says.
She says that she turns to her faith to help her heal.
“When it’s whispers that maybe you notice, but you don’t really hear or the looks you might get that might hurt, but when it’s physical it becomes frightening on a whole different level,” Hong says. “It’s made me realize, ‘OK I can’t stay quiet.’”
Hong says she will continue to offer emotional support to patients, family, friends and staff.


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