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Contact the Spiritual Care Staff


Department of Spiritual Care
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
10833 LeConte Avenue, 12-217 CHS
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1733
Phone: (310) 825-7484
Fax: (310) 267-0291

Supervisors & Staff

CPE Supervisors

Rev. Karen Schnell is the Director of the Spiritual Care Department.  She functions as a CPE Supervisor,  Administrator for the Department, and Chaplain.  She is ordained for ministry and endorsed for Chaplaincy by the United Church of Christ, and certified as a CPE Supervisor through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.  She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  Rev. Schnell did the majority of her CPE and Supervisory training at UCLA Medical Center, and her chaplaincy experience includes medical intensive care, oncoloy, palliative care, emergency services, and general hospital ministry, and retreat work for staff.  She also served as the Manager of Spiritual Care and Education and Chaplain at Children's Hospital Los Angeles for five years.
email: KSchnell@mednet.ucla.edu

Rev. Yuko Uesugi is the Director of ACPE Clinical Pastoral Education and Associate Director of the Spiritual Care Department.  She is a certified ACPE Supervisor and an ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church (UMC).  She completed the ACPE internship and residency programs at UCLA Westwood and Santa Monica Hospital. She is a native of Japan, and came to the U.S. in 1996 in order to pursue her theological education.  She holds her B.A. in Business Administration from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan and M. Div. Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  Rev. Uesugi has chaplaincy experience in cardiology, psychiatry, oncology, and general hospital ministry and management experience of the Spiritual Care Department at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.  email: YUesugi@mednet.ucla.edu

Rev. Timothy Thorstenson, D. Min. is a certified ACPE Supervisor and manages the Spiritual Care Department at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. Time came to us from Minnesota where he supervised at all levels of CPE, and served both the regional and national Association for Clinical Pastoral Education for 28 years. Tim is an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church (ELCA), and holds his Master of Divinity from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and Doctor of Ministry from Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools.  He has also served as the Director of Clinical Ethics for both Allina Health System and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis.  Tim is a writer and lecturer in the crossroads of theology, spirituality, clinical ministry and ethics. 

Rev. Patrice Mbo is a certified ACPE Supervisory Candidate.  He is ordained and endorsed for chaplaincy by the Presbyterian Church (USA), and is a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC).  He is a  native of Cameroon, raised in France, lived in Spain for two years, and has lived in the U.S. since 2004.  He holds his Master of Theology with an emphasis in Bioethics from the Protestant University of Central Africa in Cameroon.  Rev. Mbo was a Visiting Scholar at Graduate Theological Union in 2006, and he completed his CPE Residency year at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, California.  He is currently working toward his Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in Pastoral Care and Counseling at San Francisco Theological Seminary.  His chaplaincy experience includes oncology, psychiatry, bereavement, hospice, and Palliative Care.  He served two years as the Spiritual Care Manager of Napa Valley Hospice, California.  email: PMboAbenoyap@mednet.ucla.edu

Staff Chaplains - RR UCLA Medical Center

Rabbi Pearl Barlev is a Staff Chaplain serving primarily the Jewish patient population.  She also oversees the Jewish volunteer and rabbinic intern programs.  She received her rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters from the same institution.  She has served congregations in the Los Angeles area in pastoral, preaching, teaching and musical capacities.  Rabbi Barlev has also been a Kalsman Fellow, serving the UCLA Spiritual Care Department in this capacity from September 2006 through May 2007.  She completed her Clinical Pastoral Education training at RR UCLA Medical Center.  As the Jewish Chaplain, she provides for specific Jewish needs of patients, families, and staff, and supervises rabbinic interns and Jewish volunteers.
email: PBarlev@mednet.ucla.edu

Fr. Thomas Clerkin is a Staff Chaplain serving primarily the Roman Catholic patient population.  He also oversees the Roman Catholic volunteer program.  He is an ordained Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Paulist Fathers.  Fr. Clerkin earned his M. Div. From Washington Theological Union, and holds a B.S. from West Virginia University.  Fr. Clerkin did his Clinical Pastoral Education training at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.  Prior to coming to UCLA, he served as Catholic Chaplain at Franklin General Hospital in New York, and then for three years worked as the Director of Catholic Pastoral Care at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.  Fr. Clerkin was ordained to the Catholic Priesthood in 1985, and has served in priestly ministry at parishes in New York, Chicago, and Texas.  He is certified as a chaplain by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
email: TClerkin@mednet.ucla.edu 

Rev. Aiko Johnson holds a M.A. in Communication Studies from California State University Long Beach, and a M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  She is ordained and endorsed for chaplaincy by the Presbyterian Church (USA), and is a board-certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains. Aiko functions as a pediatric chaplain for the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA Medical Center, and also as a member of the Governing Board for the UCLA Early Head Start - a federally funded program for low-income families with infants & toddlers and pregnant women.  She completed her CPE internship at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and CPE residency at UCLA Westwood.  She is a native of Japan, having lived in the Los Angeles area since 1995. 
email: AIJohnson@mednet.ucla.edu

Chaplain Chitra Rao, B.C.C. is the Oncology staff chaplain serving both outpatients at the Oncology Center and inpatients at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. She is a native of India, having lived in the United States since 1982.  Chitra holds her M.Div. degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.  She is endorsed for chaplaincy by the Episcopal Church and is a board-certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains. Following her CPE residency year at the University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chitra served for six years as staff chaplain in both pediatrics and adult oncology at City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte California. Her chaplaincy experience includes neonatal, hospice, bereavement, and general hospital ministry.  Additionally, Chitra also holds graduate degrees in Special Education and Audiology.
email: crao@mednet.ucla.edu

Staff Chaplains - UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica

Rev. Joseph Hepburn is a staff chaplain at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.  He is originally from Trinidad. He attended United Theological College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, completing his B.A. in Theology.  Subsequently, at Drew University in New Jersey, USA, he was awarded M.A. and M.Phil. degrees in  Philosophy and Ethics in 1989.  He then returned to serve the Methodist Churches in the Caribbean and later accepted an appointment in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church where he served at the Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, followed by an internship at Saint Elizabeth's Psychiatric Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2002.  After serving his home circuit in Trinidad and Tobago, Joseph came to California and completed the CPE residency program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. 

Rev. Diane Williams is a staff chaplain at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.    She completed her CPE Residency at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with a focus on liver transplant and adolescent in-patient psychiatry.  She is an ordained Religious Science minister.  Diane received a Masters in Metaphysical Science from the University of Metaphysics and a Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling from the University of Sedona.  For seven years, Diane was the Ministry Leader through her local church community in a ministry that supports people in the death/dying process.  Her focus at SM-UCLA is in Maternal & Child Health Services.  Diane lived in various places in the U.S. and has called southern California home for the past 25 years. 

The Spiritual Care Department also includes an Office Administrator and many qualified volunteers from most faith traditions, including Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Roman Catholic.  As part of the Spiritual Care Department's team, they work together with CPE interns, residents and staff to serve the spiritual and religious needs of the Medical Center's patients, patient-family members, staff and faculty. 

UCLA Health is an Accredited Center for CPE Level 1, Level 2, and Supervisory CPE by ACPE, Inc. 1549 Clairmont Road - Suite 103, Decatur, GA 30033-4635 (404) 320-1472. www.acpe.edu Rev. Karen Schnell, Rev. Yuko Uesugi and Rev. Tim Thorstenson are certified ACPE Supervisors.  Rev. Patrice Mbo is a certified ACPE Supervisory Candidate.