Welcome to Defender Profiles. Here you’ll learn about one of our amazing defenders of childhood – everything from what they do for CHOC to what they do for fun – and gain insight into a different department in our health system.
After joining CHOC two years ago, Yuzen Gabel, a chaplain in the spiritual care department, is on a mission to uplift patients, families and employees with emotional and spiritual support while also being their advocate for spiritual values. Yuzen loves the unpredictability of his daily visits and is always looking for creative ways to care for our children at CHOC.
How long have you worked at CHOC?
For two years. I decided to pursue a career at CHOC because it aligned with my passion for spiritual caregiving in an environment with children and families of all ages. It’s great getting to work in a department that values caring for the whole person in front of you.
Can you describe your current role?
As a chaplain of the spiritual care department, my role is to provide emotional and spiritual support to CHOC patients, visitors and employees. That may mean providing religious support in terms of prayer or ritual, talking about fears and struggles of being hospitalized, or supporting CHOC employees struggling with tragedy or sadness with the patients we provide care for. I also work to understand a patient’s and family’s spiritual worldview or values to advocate for or convey to their care team.
What do you love about your current role?
I love the variety of visits that I have on a daily basis. Every person comes to us with their own lived experience, beliefs and culture. I never know what my next visit will be like and that serves to make the work I do refreshing.
What do you love about working at CHOC?
I believe caring for children demands a certain degree of creativity. CHOC gives me the opportunity to do that and it’s encouraging to see the same done by employees from all our departments across the enterprise.
How has CHOC changed and progressed in your time here?
I came into this field shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. So, when I joined CHOC, I had gotten used to the hospital operating day-to-day without special events. Now that I’ve seen holiday events and the CHOC Farmer’s Market resume, I didn’t know what I was missing until now.
What do you wish employees knew about our spiritual care department?
Our spiritual care department is here for you. We are now providing employees the opportunity to schedule time to speak with a chaplain privately about anything troubling them. Some of my richest visits have been with people who didn’t have preconceptions of the spiritual role of the chaplain. While our chaplains may come from our respective religious backgrounds, employees are free to be themselves without expecting judgment from our spiritual care team.
Do you have any favorite moments or stories about working at CHOC that you can share?
As I pursue another dream of becoming a Buddhist priest, I made the decision to go by my religious name, Yuzen, about a year into working at CHOC. It was met with encouragement from so many employees in person and through touching affirmations – even in email.
What do you think makes someone a great Defender of Childhood?
A great Defender of Childhood not only recognizes the impactful part they play in what might be a traumatic story for our developing children at CHOC, but also serves to enhance these experiences in ways that lead to empowering memories in their future.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I enjoy spending time at my Buddhist temple and dancing cumbia, bachata and norteños with family.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
I would like to visit the temples and forests of Japan.