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When chaplains are serving as part of an interdisciplinary team, they are visible and regarded as an integral part of patient care.

Published Oct 25th, 2023

By Michelle Ryan

Chaplains and spiritual care providers offer essential support to patients and families in the healthcare setting, and National Spiritual Care Week – which spans Oct. 22-28, 2023 – brings attention to the specialized work they do. 

Seated on front row: Chaplain Intern Brady Powers and Sister Louise Busby; Standing on back row: Chaplain Henry Thomas, Chaplain Kim Crawford Meeks, and Chaplain Phil Hollstein

This year’s theme, "Chaplaincy and Mental Health: It’s Healthy to Get Help," encourages viewing the work of chaplains as being an inclusive part of healthcare. Observed since 1985, the celebration now extends internationally. 

“When chaplains are serving as part of an interdisciplinary team, they are visible and regarded as an integral part of patient care,” according to the Congress on Ministries in Specialized Settings, which hosts the observance. “It is during these experiences, scope of practices, and interactions that the chaplain becomes one of the central subjects of focus for best practices and optimal care.” 

With the acquisition of Providence, the Spiritual Care Department at USA Health has expanded and now consists of four board-certified chaplains, a chaplain student intern, four spiritual care volunteers, and 11 volunteer extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. 

“The department continues to provide spiritual and emotional support throughout the health system for patients, families and employees, and it reaches out to the community through the Stepping Stones Grief Support Group,” said Kim Crawford Meeks, USA Health’s spiritual care manager. “Interfaith chapels are also located on the first floor of each hospital in our system.” 

From left, William Hamilton, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist volunteer; John Robb, lead extraordinary minister of the Eucharist volunteer; Chaplain Kim Crawford Meeks, spiritual care manager; Shellyn Poole, spiritual care extender volunteer; and Tanisha Robinson, spiritual care extender volunteer.

The USA Health spiritual care team consists of: 

Chaplain Kim Crawford Meeks, a board-certified chaplain, has been spiritual care manager since January 2022. Crawford Meeks has more than 30 years of ministry experience in churches and healthcare settings, including service as a staff chaplain with Ascension St. Vincent’s, CareFirst Hospice and UAB Hospital in Birmingham. She holds a Master of Divinity and a certificate specializing in spirituality and mental health. Crawford Meeks, her husband, David, and dog, Maggie, have four grown children and two grandchildren. They reside in Mobile. 

Chaplain Phil Hollstein joined USA Health as a board-certified chaplain at Providence Hospital, where he has served since 2018. Previously, he was a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years. Born and raised in Hawaii, Hollstein resided in California and several other states while in the military. He and his wife, Melanie, have three children.  

Chaplain Henry Thomas, a board-certified chaplain, has been a staff chaplain at Providence Hospital for 17 years. Thomas holds a Master of Divinity degree. He is married to Kathy Mote, and they have a son, Matthew; daughter-in-law, Katie; and granddog Charlie

Sister Louise Busby, a board-certified chaplain, is a native of Mobile. For 38 years, she has been a member of the community of the Daughters of Charity, which founded Providence Hospital. She has served in the education ministry for 24 years. Sister Louise holds a Master of Science degree in education administration and a Master of Pastoral Theology. She has been a staff chaplain at Providence, collectively, for three years. 

Chaplain Brady Powers is a chaplain intern at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital. He and his wife connected to Children’s & Women’s through the Bridge Program, and the hospital holds a special place in their hearts after they lost their first child shortly after birth. Walking through this loss, combined with his five years of full-time youth ministry experience, inspired him to support other families and children at the hospital. 

Father Marcin Dudziak is a spiritual care extender. Appointed by the Archdiocese of Mobile as the priest chaplain for Mobile hospitals, Father Marcin has been visiting Catholic patients at all USA Health hospitals since the summer of 2022. 

Deacon Mark Thompson, a spiritual care extender, is appointed as deacon at St. Mary’s Parish in midtown Mobile. His archdiocesan ministry is at Children’s & Women’s Hospital, but he also assists with Communion of Catholic patients at University Hospital. He was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in June 2022. 

Tanisha Robinson, a spiritual care extender, has been employed with Springhill Medical Center as a mammographer and radiological technologist for 19 years. She is pursuing a Master of Divinity with the goal of becoming a board-certified chaplain. She currently serves as an associate ordained minister at St. John A.M.E. Church. 

Shellyn Poole, a spiritual care extender, is a retired family minister who served congregations in Florida and central Alabama. After a lengthy career working for Baptist churches, she and her husband relocated to the Eastern Shore to be close to their granddaughters. 

John Robb, lead extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, is a former branch manager for Raymond James Financial Services and a former news reporter for NBC affiliates in Mobile and Lexington, Kentucky. He has established a ministry to invite inactive Catholics to resume regular reception of the sacraments, is founder and president of Friends of Mobile Trees, and coordinates the Mobile Leprechaun's St. Patrick's week visits to area nursing homes. He has been a Eucharistic minister and lector at St. Ignatius Parish since 1985 and earned a Master of Arts in Theology from Spring Hill College. He and his wife, Lynn, live in Mobile. 

Other extraordinary minister volunteers include: Patricia (Pat) Trenier, William Hamilton, Mary Ann Borel, Lorie Coletti, Joanne Donaghey, Joan Harrison, Rita McCormick, Kitty Meshad, Diane O’Hara, Pat Richey, and Cindy Ryals. 

To request spiritual care services, you or a member of your healthcare team can call 251-445-9015.

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