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Spiritual Care

When you need comfort… our chaplains are here for you.

Our hospital chaplains are available to patients and their loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re here to listen, to pray with you, to support you during grief or loss, or to just to sit with you and be a comforting presence. We also can reach out to your community church or faith group and connect with hospital or community resources you may need.

At Mountain States, we believe that spiritual care is an important part of the healing process. We know that being in the hospital can be a time of stress, anxiety and loneliness, whether you’re the patient or the patient is someone you love, and whether you’re in crisis or simply scared or lonely. We are here to offer you hope and to help in any way possible.

How to Contact a Chaplain

If you’d like to contact a chaplain, ask your nurse or call the hospital switchboard. If you are at Johnson City Medical Center, you may call 423-431-6886 any time, day or night. Chaplains from our Spiritual Care department, as well as our volunteer medical chaplain associates, are available at Mountain States facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We also have representatives from most major world religions available to meet the faith needs of our patients from various cultures. A list of representatives from a variety of religious backgrounds is accessible at all Mountain States facilities to provide appropriate spiritual support to all of our patients and families.

What Is a Hospital Chaplain?

Hospital or medical chaplains are spiritual and pastoral caregivers are specially trained to be attuned and sensitive to the needs of those in a hospital or clinical setting. Their goal is to provide compassionate support and inspire spiritual well-being to people from all walks of life and any faith during times of ease and challenge.

Hospital chaplains offer services which are as varied as connecting a patient with community resources or helping someone renew a relationship with a loved one. They seek to provide these services while being mindful of individual differences and faiths, always seeking to encourage a harmonious healing environment for those being served.

Volunteer Chaplain Associates

Volunteer chaplains assist our staff of full-time chaplains to make sure we are able to meet spiritual needs throughout Mountain States Health Alliance. These trained volunteers represent various faiths in our area, and also can assist in you in reaching representatives from other faith groups, if needed.

Who Can Be a Volunteer Chaplain Associate?

When selecting our volunteer chaplains, we look for people who will adhere to our Code of Ethics and will attempt to relate to each patient’s particular religious understanding and not proselytize. Our volunteer chaplains include clergy as well as seminary-trained and lay people in the community.

How to Apply

Complete the Volunteer Chaplain Program Application and the Volunteer Chaplain Self Evaluation and follow the instructions for submission. You will receive an e-mail with further instructions. If you do not provide an e-mail address, you will be contacted by phone in 1 to 2 weeks.

For more information about the Volunteer Chaplain Associate program, call us at 423-302-1572 or email
About Mountain States Spiritual Care

We are compassionate people bringing God's healing presence to all we serve.

We passionately pursue and promote the spiritual health of patients, families, and caregivers.

Excellence, Grace, Hope, Hospitality, Integrity, Leadership, Peace, Service

The Center for Diversity

At Mountain States Health Alliance, we embrace an environment where inclusion is valued and where people respect each other as individuals.  We appreciate our differences and similarities; they enable us to better serve our patients, one another, and our communities.

Through institutionalized diversity, we can promote an organizational culture that respects individual differences and better represents our community.  The Center for Diversity provides strategic leadership for creating an inclusive culture for patients, team members, business partners and the community.  Our efforts to address diversity include:

  • Enhance Cultural Sensitivity: Research and implementation of services to support patients, team members and visitors in meeting diversity needs.
  • Education and Cultural Competency: Cultural Competency training enables us to better serve and relate to our increasingly diverse patient population and to each other.
  • Awareness of the Culture Climate: Providing surveys, report cards and a reporting structure to assist us in being sensitive and respectful to the differences and the inclusino of all.
  • Workforce Development: Our recruitment and staff development efforts focus on ensuring that team members at all levels represent the communities we serve.
  • Community Engagement: Cultivate engagement with community diversity awareness partners. 

If you have any questions about Mountain States diversity initiatives, or concerns about a specific situation in the workplace, please contact the Center for Diversity department on the company intranet.  

Clinical Pastoral Education Program

Johnson City Medical Center offers a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program that is fully accredited by The Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), Inc.  This program combines the practice of spiritual care with qualified supervision and peer group reflection, utilizes an “action/reflection” mode of learning and supervised reflection of student’s personal experience, interpersonal dynamics and spiritual pilgrimage to help deepen and broaden the capacity to minister and to serve.

ACPE Supervisor Larry Easterling, 423-431-5368, 
The Reverend Larry Easterling, a native Appalachian, is a certified ACPE Supervisor in Clinical Pastoral Education, a program that trains ministers for Chaplaincy careers.  Prior to joining MSHA, from 2000 to 2006, Rev. Easterling was Vice President, Mission and Spiritual Care, Advocate Christ Medical Center and System Vice President, Clinical Education, Advocate Health Care in Chicago, Illinois.
Rev. Easterling received a Doctorate of Theology from Columbia Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School, an MBA in Healthcare Administration from St. Xavier University, a Master of Science in Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Kentucky.  He is a published author and an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church.

ACPE Supervisory Candidate, Debbie Shields, 423-302-1571,
Rev. Shields is a Board Certified Chaplain through the Association for Professional Chaplains and is a Supervisory Candidate for the ACPE.   She became Senior Chaplain at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) in June 2008, after serving as a contract chaplain from 1996 -2008.   Rev. Shields was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1992 and earned her Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 1991. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hiram College in 1988, where she double-majored in Religious Studies and German.

For more information about Clinical Pastoral Education, visit or contact:

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.
1549 Clairmont Road, Decatur, GA 30033
Phone: 404-320-1472  Fax: 404-320-0949

If you are a student interested in the program, please visit the website, complete the application and send it to:

Rev. Debbie Shields, ACPE Supervisory Candidate Johnson City Medical Center
Spiritual and Pastoral Care Department
415 State of Franklin Road
Johnson City, TN 37604

Advance Directives

Advance Directives help people communicate their treatment preferences when they are unable to do so otherwise.

Under the new law, there are two types of Advance Directives:

  • Advance Care Plan (previously called a Living Will)
  • Appointment of Healthcare Agent (previously called a Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney)

Advance Directives for Tennessee

Advance Directives for Virginia