Patients at Good Shepherd Medical Center not only receive physical care and comfort, but spiritual attention, as well.
The Rev. Ward Jones, 56, is the man in charge of the latter, attending to the spiritual and emotional needs of patients admitted to Good Shepherd Medical Center, as well as those under the care Vange John Memorial Hospice.
Jones, the medical center's chaplain, is warmly received by patients as he calls on them in their rooms.
His soothing manner is not only supportive, but patients realize they have found a good listener in Jones.
Veronica Brock, a truck driver from E. Nicolaus, Calif., who was temporarily hospitalized at Good Shepherd, appreciated the opportunity to talk to Jones about her treatment.
"A chaplain is not for the purpose of giving a patient a little dose of religion," said Jones. "We are here to provide emotional and spiritual support. We assist the medical effort."
It's been shown that when a patient is emotionally positive, it helps with the healing of the body.
"We try to tap into the value system that they have to strengthen the emotional support ? to augment the medical treatment they are getting so they will heal faster and better," Ward said. "We want the patient to have what the patient wants."
Ward, the pastor of West Side Church of Christ, does not try to convert folks to his specific brand of worship.
"He is not here to proselytize, but to minister to everyone's needs," said Kelly Sanders, vice president of ancillary at Good Shepherd Medical Center.
If a convalescing patient requests a visit from their own pastor or rabbi, Jones contacts them.
"We don't care what brand a person is or even if they don't wear a brand," said Jones. "They may call themselves Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, they may have a Native American traditional religious background or East Indian, such as Hindu."
If, as in many cases, the patient does not have spiritual support from a personal minister, Jones steps in to fill the role.
"I evaluate their emotional responses and their preferred value system, so I can help them," Jones said.
He also provides comfort to shut-in Hospice patents.
"Our key words for Hospice patients is that we maximize their life," Jones said. "Our purpose is to help people have the very best quality of life."
Jones' easy, personal manner may come from his background in ministering to small congregations.
"I've never been interested in getting with large churches," Jones said. "I've followed the pattern of getting with small churches that could not support me on a full-time basis. I had to work in the secular world to support my habit as minister."
His job at Good Shepherd Medical Center is a part-time role.
In the past, Jones worked as insurance salesman, real estate broker, and with his wife, Faye, as foster parents to institutionalized children. He's also served as a missionary to Tanzania in Africa.
"Of all the places that I have worked, I enjoy this job at the hospital more than any other," Jones said. "The people are warm and great to work with."
His daily goal is to visit every patient on the floor or in the critical car unit Monday through Friday.
He stepped into the position at the medical center four years ago following in the footsteps of Jesse Aldridge, the first chaplain hired by the hospital.
"We have had a chaplain for 15 years," said Kelly Sanders. "It goes back to Wes Sackman, a minister who was on the board. He encouraged us to add a spiritual component."
The chaplain position has been an integral part of the medical center since that time, according to Sanders.