Q&A: GRMC’s Pastoral Care and Advanced Directive Services

Q&A With Tom Jones, Executive Director of GRMC LIFE Care Services

As the executive director of GRMC’s LIFE Care program, chaplain Tom Jones and his team provide a range of patient and community services in the areas of hospice, palliative care, spiritual care and medical directives.

Q: How does this program complement the other services that GRMC offers?
A: “Physicians, nurses and other team members are taking care of the physical aspects of a patient’s health, while we provide care for the patient’s spiritual needs – and often, the needs of his or her family members.

That’s what’s wonderful about GRMC . We take care of the whole person- physically, spiritually, and emotionally.”

Q: What kind of services or support can your team offer?
A: “We can pray with people, read scripture, anoint, or serve communion – or make it possible for them to do those things with their primary clergy. Also, we can provide guidance and counseling regarding important medical legal documents, like living wills.

Here’s how I look at it: Our team is here to facilitate support systems. If a patient has a spiritual and emotional support system in place, we can help that patient access that system. If not, we can help the patient identify or create one.”

Q: Do you only offer services within the Christian tradition?
A: “No. All of our chaplains are Christian/Protestant, but we have an address book full of contacts that we can access when we need to provide support outside of that tradition.

Q: Do patients have to have serious illness in order to access these services?
A: “No, we provide service to all of our patients. Even if a patient or a patient’s family member is here for something minor or routine, that person may still have lots of anxiety and need assistance.

Regardless of what kind of treatment someone is receiving, we want them to feel confident about the level of support they received both physically and spiritually while they were at GRMC.“

Q: What about the advance directives services that you provide?
A: “We can facilitate the creation of Texas Advanced Directive forms, living wills, and resuscitation orders.

Whatever a patient or a family member needs, whether it’s just the clarification of a few questions or whether they’re starting from scratch, we can help.
These services are provided at any time to any community member – not just GRMC patients who are in the hospital. Learn more about advanced directives. 

We encourage the community to avail themselves of these services before they need them – and to periodically review their documents and make sure everything’s up to date, not to mention in the correct location. In the event of an emergency, your documents are not going to be very helpful – or even enforceable – if they are only located in a bank vault or locked away in a drawer in your house.

These are hard conversations to have with yourself or with family members, but it’s so important to go through the process. Doing so will provide great peace of mind and a sense of control, because you will have made your wishes known. Taking care of this important business is also a wonderful gift to give your family.

Q: Tell us about the members of your team.
A: “We have amazing team members in LIFE Care. They are very high caliber, compassionate individuals who are capable of handling multiple stressful situations a day.

As chaplains, I feel like it’s important know our place within our own faith system and enter into other people’s faith systems without conflict. I see our job as providing peace, comfort, and assurance in situations where there is stress, pain, and uncertainty.”

Learn more about GRMC’s Spiritual Care and Advanced Directive Services.