Meeting spiritual needs at the hospital


By Michael Boylan, Special to The Citizen

What does a chaplain do in a typical day at Piedmont Fayette Hospital? Is there even such a thing as a typical day?

Chaplains Jim Taylor and Kim Holman say they have had every type of day during their time providing spiritual services at the hospital and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We can have days where there is nothing chaotic and we just make our rounds and visits,” Taylor said.

“And then there can be days like today,” Holman added. “Where the morning got off to a slow start and then a patient began coding.”

As chaplains at the hospital, both Taylor and Holman do what they can to help patients, their families and staff members during emotional times.

Although both of them have their own faiths and beliefs, they care for people from any different faith background and even those who don’t have any.

“Our ministry is a ministry of presence,” said Taylor, who also serves as a volunteer chaplain for the Peachtree City Police Department. “We don’t go into people’s rooms with Bibles and read scripture.”

Holman agreed, adding, “The two things we do most is listen and just be with people. We don’t give advice, but we can be a sounding board and help them use their inner strength to get through this hurdle in their lives.”

There are many hurdles at a hospital and some days, or weeks, can be especially trying. Taylor and Holman keep their fingers on the pulse of the facility and know when a staff member or a department may need a shoulder to lean on or a kind ear to listen.

When the stresses of their jobs get to be too much, Taylor and Holman have each other. The two have been Piedmont employees for five years and were volunteers together five years before that. If one of them is away on vacation, he or she will still call the other every day to check in and see how it is going.

They also belong to different chapters of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy and can get support from their colleagues who understand the nature of being a hospital chaplain.

Holman started her chaplain career as an intern at Northside Hospital. Over the years, she has specialized in serving people in women’s services. She says she has a particular heart for that part of the job because she suffered a miscarriage with her son, David, and also dealt with her son, Jacob, spending time in the NICU after he was born.

The chaplains have recently started working with Rachel’s Gift, an organization based out of McDonough, that focuses on providing comfort to families dealing with the loss of a baby.

The chaplains are obviously called upon during hard times, but they have also been present during some joyous times as well. They have performed weddings in the garden outside of their office and have also performed numerous baptisms.

They  both currently are leading student chaplains through Clinical Pastoral Education and are also leading the spiritual portions of numerous classes and support groups within the hospital. Taylor works with diabetes patients and Holman leads the stress management section of a teen pregnancy class. Both also work with cardio and pulmonary rehabilitation patients.

Thanks to Taylor and Holman, and the volunteer chaplains, every room at Piedmont Fayette is visited two to three times every week. Taylor and Holman are board certified clinical chaplains, certified pastoral counselors, and certified Fellows in Hospice and Palliative Care. They continue their education and training and often meet with the religious leaders from area churches who come to the hospital to pay visits to their members.

Their door is nearly always open and Taylor and Holman say they are always willing to help.