Primary Children’s Hospital
Salt Lake City, Utah
For most of his career, David Pascoe worked in corporate America in positions not typically known for high degrees of compassion. It wasn’t until later in life that he decided to pursue his true calling as a chaplain.
It was David’s mother who imparted to him one of the most important lessons in compassion. He was called to her bedside in his northern England hometown because she had suffered a stroke from which she would not survive. As he sat by her bedside, his mother gently taught him about sadness and acceptance in the presence of death supported by the bonds of family.
When he returned to the U.S. after her funeral, David could not settle in his job, so decided to enter a clinical pastoral education program. This eventually led him to his present role as an interfaith chaplain at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT.
David has worked with a multitude of patients and their families from all walks of life, bringing them comfort in their time of struggle. In addition, David’s support is extended to the caregivers who are impacted in their jobs by the suffering and challenges they witness as they care for sick and injured children and their families.
“Through both his professional and personal values and practice, David has demonstrated great regard for the human spirit. Staff from all disciplines know that at times of impending death, critical news or decision-making regarding our young patients, one of the most valuable resources they can offer a family is a call to David.”
“David truly embodies compassionate care and generously gives of his time, heart and mind,” says a colleague. “He meets patients, families and staff where they are and offers a gift of a sense of peace, often simply by his presence.”
Another important lesson in compassion for David came early in his career when a pregnant nurse was caring for a mother whose newborn was not going to survive. The mother could not bear to stay with her child as he died, so the nurse offered to hold the baby instead. As the hospital chaplain, David felt he needed to be there for both of them. While she gently rocked the dying baby, the nurse confided, “I don’t think I could do this if it was my own child, but I can do it for this baby and his mother.” The depth of compassion the nurse showed has stayed with David ever since.
“David has deep appreciation of the weight that is carried by caregivers in a children’s hospital,” says a colleague. In recognition of caregivers’ need for support, David worked in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team to bring the Schwartz RoundsTM program to the hospital, which he facilitates. He also visits the units he serves on a regular basis to check on nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians and others. He brings with him a 1930s English wooden trolley stocked with tea, cookies and chocolates.
“He seems to know when there has been an event such as a death and often will show up at just the right time to check on how the family and healthcare team are doing. His regular visits to the staff break room provide a welcome respite,” says a colleague.
“I have come to believe that there is no greater gift one human being can give another than the gift of compassionate presence, offered without agenda, judgment or prejudice,” says David.