Health & Medicine

Grief, thanksgiving, prayer, mindfulness: This Sutter space is designed for it all

Leaders of Sacramento's Sutter Medical Center will dedicate their new chapel on Thursday, adding a space that chaplains said they hope will be valued as a space for renewal and contemplation for employees, patients and their loved ones.

"Some of the vision was to really pull people – visitors and employees – into the space, so they would come in," said Lisa Nordlander, director of Sutter spiritual care services. "The way we’ve divided up the space really accommodates a range of ways to use this as spiritual center."

The chapel space has an office where a chaplain can sit and see visitors as they enter and connect with them. The central focal point of the main room is an abstract glass sculpture by Auburn-based artist Deanna Marsh that will speak to each visitor in different ways. For Nordlander, it conjures the feeling of cascading water.

"It does flow like a water wall, with the lighter, more transparent colors at the top and then coming down with the more solid colors at the bottom," she said. "It represents that flow, and water is a universal symbol. We wanted to create as many spaces as we could within this footprint. "

The design team at Sacramento-based Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture created a cabinet that opens to show a roughly 2-foot-long wooden cross made by a superintendent from The Boldt Co., the general contractor on the project. The committee overseeing the project were discussing where to get a cross when Boldt project manager Angela Bowman remembered that one of her company's employees, Paul Tate, made wooden crosses out of recycled wine barrels.

She said she asked him to send her a photo of one. He did so, and she was able to call it up on her phone and show it to the group. It won instant approval. That moment is just one of many ways in which this project team just clicked, said Stephanie Swain, director of interior design at Dreyfuss + Blackford.

The lightweight cross can be moved with one hand and hung on a wall for Christian services. Around the corner from this central room is an alcove where visitors will find prayer mats, meditation pillows, a shoe rack and separate spaces for both prayer and meditation. Nordlander said she plans to hang a picture of the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the center of the Great Mosque of Mecca. It's an indication to Muslims of the direction in which they should pray.

James Grant, a Sutter anesthesia technician who is Muslim, said he found the space to be welcoming: "The prayer rugs are beautiful, and the area is really nice. ... I plan on putting it to use."

Catherine Silva, a secretary in the respiratory department, said she looking forward to using the main chapel as space where she can calm herself down. Silva, a Catholic, has faced health challenges in the past.

"I like to take a minute just to have some silence and be thankful or breathe a little bit," she said. "It will completely change my whole day when I have anxiety."

Swain said they have a large light fixture ordered for the wall in the alcove. What Swain and Nordlander especially like about the whole space is that it is a central spot on the second floor of the Sutter Medical Center campus at 2825 Capitol Ave.

"A lot of people will go past here, whether it’s staff or families or even patients coming into register," Swain said.

That's because the chapel sits at a traffic nexus where bridges connect a number of buildings in the Sutter medical complex. The campus comprises Ose Adams Medical Pavilion (formerly Sutter General Hospital), the Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center, Buhler Specialty Pavilion, Capitol Pavilion and the Fort Sutter Medical Building.

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