Making A Difference: GMC Chaplains

Providing great customer service isn’t just about taking care of the patient’s physical needs.  It includes meeting their emotional and spiritual needs as well. This is why GMC has a variety of care providers on staff, including chaplains.

“There are four staff chaplains – Chuck Christie, Sandy Booth and myself here at GMC-Lawrenceville, and Cristina Garcia-Alfonso at GMC-Duluth,” says Bob Duvall, director of chaplaincy. “We also have clinical pastoral education residents and interns, 10 theology students and three volunteer chaplains – Thomas Valukaran, Gordon Okunsanya and Doug Coyle. We, and all caregivers, take note of people’s needs and work to bring aid to them.”

 GMC’s Chaplaincy department provides and coordinates quality spiritual care to promote patient care excellence, to foster sensitivity to the diverse needs of GMC patients and visitors and to integrate spiritual values and health decisions. “A patient need not have a religious orientation to express or have spiritual concerns such as questions of meaning and purpose,” says Duvall. “Health and faith are inextricably intertwined. Our departmental values are as follows:
All persons are of ultimate worth
Being human has many expressions and each one deserves attention
Health changes and choices impact the whole fabric of life

“We take all of these values to heart. We are responsible for caring for all people and work to ensure that each and every person we come in contact with is treated with respect. We ask the patient, family or colleague if their faith could be of help, and we give up being the expert. We approach the patient and their family as a sacred text worthy of study and reflection, and we try   to listen twice as much as we speak.”

In addition to caring for patients and their loved ones, the GMC chaplains also care for GMC associates. Two memorable rituals they offer are Tea for the Soul and Blessing of the Hands.

Tea for the Soul: At the request of the unit manager, freshly brewed tea, cookies, relaxing music and books of light reading will be brought to the break room. The program is designed to provide patient care teams with a brief respite from the chaos and emotional fatigue that can accompany the care-giving environment. 

Blessing of the Hands: A ritual of healing for healers. Chaplains provide a brief service of blessing the hands of caregivers to honor and recognize the sacredness of their work in caring for others.

Along with our chaplaincy porgram, Gwinnett Medical Center offers Faith Community Nursing and support groups both in the hospital and in the community. Learn more at


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