UNMH spiritual care team posing for photo.
By Makenzie McNeill

New Meditation Room to Open in the UNM Hospital Critical Care Tower

Level-I trauma centers often witness the full spectrum of the human experience – from the first cry of a high-risk newborn to end-of-life care—and The University of New Mexico Hospital is no different.

Helping patients and staff navigate some of life’s most defining moments is why the Department of Spiritual Health and Education exists at UNM Hospital. The department’s services will extend to the new Critical Care Tower (CCT) with a meditation room and 2,000-square foot central office on the second level. 

internal-jamie-martinez.jpg“It’s an exciting time to be a chaplain here,” said Jamie Martinez, board-certified chaplain at UNM Hospital. “We are deepening the understanding of our profession and are preparing to welcome new chaplains. I’ve been watching the construction of the critical care tower through the Barbara and Bill Richardson Pavilion meditation room windows. Just as our hospital is growing, so too is our team.”

The Department of Spiritual Health and Education began at UNM Hospital in 1986 with an emphasis on pastoral care. Within the last decade, it has shifted to a spiritual care approach, a more holistic and inclusive philosophy that encompasses all faiths, worldviews and cultures.

“Ultimately, spiritual care is all about meaningful connections, and that looks different for everyone,” said Skip Murphy, DMin, MDiv, director of spiritual health and education at UNM Hospital. internal-skip-murphy.jpg

“Our greatest resource is our chaplains, who are trained to support individuals in their meaningful connections. They are able to be bedside with patients to help them process their fears and challenges.”

Murphy currently oversees a team of six full-time chaplains who are all board-certified, have received at least eight years of formal education, and have undergone a 12-month residency program. They expect to welcome aboard more chaplains in the future.

internal-meditation-room.jpgIn addition to caring for the spiritual and emotional needs of patients and staff, Murphy’s team also manages two unique areas, Zimmerman Chapel in the main hospital and a meditation room in the Barbara and Bill Richardson Pavilion. 

These spaces are open to all and provide a calm and private environment for individuals or groups to grieve, pray and reflect.

internal-level-2-meditation.jpgThe new mediation room in the CCT will serve that same purpose and more.

“I foresee the new meditation room in the tower being utilized for events surrounding grief and staff education,” Murphy said. “We have a limitation of space at UNM Hospital, and this room will be large enough for staff and families to gather or for large, unexpected events to take place.”

The Spiritual Health and Education team is also looking forward to their new administrative offices next to the multipurpose meditation room.


As they do not currently have a designated headquarters for their department, Murphy and his team are eager to move into their new, spacious environment and see how it will benefit the UNM Hospital community. 

“I believe that it’s critical for our staff to have a central location where they can reach out to our chaplain team for support,” Murphy said.

The Spiritual Health and Education team often encounters people in moments of great vulnerability and anxiety. Their work is a reminder that although Level-I trauma centers primarily treat bodily ailments, the unseen wounds must also be cared for, as well.

internal-jay-sparks.jpg“People are physical, emotional and spiritual,” said Jay Sparks, board-certified chaplain at UNM Hospital. “Here in the hospital, it is so easy to focus on the physical that we forget the emotional and spiritual components. But they are just as important, and sometimes even more so.”

More than 500 patients a day find themselves at UNM Hospital for an injury, illness, or other distressing medical diagnosis.

Whatever the situation, the Spiritual Health and Education team will be ready to comfort and assist anyone in their search for meaningful connections.

Are you a patient or visitor at UNM Hospital in need of emotional and/or spiritual support? You can ask your nurse or provider to contact the On-Duty Spiritual Care Chaplain. Staff members can also contact the On-Duty Chaplain via TigerConnect.

To learn more about the hospital expansion, visit
Categories: Health, News You Can Use, UNM Hospital