Clergy Orientation

Welcome to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Clergy Fellowship. This Orientation Program is meant to help you gain a better understanding of the Medical Center’s campuses and help you in your ministry here.

Once you have completed the Clergy Fellowship Application Form, you will need to review the content on this page to complete your online orientation. Upon reviewing every section, select the “Clergy Orientation Review” button to indicate your completion of the online orientation.

Once we receive your application and notification of the completed Review, you will receive more helpful information and the Clergy Fellowship Parking sticker.

Thank you for your ministry at our hospitals. We look forward to ministering with you.

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the health of our community in all that we do by:

  • Providing quality spiritual and emotional care to our patients, families and staff
  • Supporting the needs of local clergy through providing opportunities for fellowship and education
A Brief History

In the late 1970’s, Northeast Georgia Medical Center and community clergy felt a need to provide a more formalized program of spiritual care at the hospital. In 1979, a Volunteer Chaplain Program was developed. This was a program made up of local ministers who would be willing to be on-call for the hospital.

The hospital developed a committee that included local clergy to investigate the hiring of a full-time clinically trained chaplain. Chaplain Wayne Nelson was selected as the Medical Center’s first chaplain. He began his ministry on April 18, 1983.

Assessing the needs of spiritual care, Wayne Nelson recommended the establishment of a Northeast Georgia Medical Center Clergy Staff in his first year. After much discussion, planning, and meetings with Administrative and Medical Staff, a Clergy Fellowship was created on September 25, 1984.

Chaplain Wayne Nelson and the Clergy Fellowship Executive Board worked to develop an expanded Volunteer Chaplain Program. This program is a vital part of the Clergy Fellowship organization.

Chaplain Wayne Nelson retired from the hospital in January of 1998. Chaplain Jeff Thompson began his ministry at the Medical Center that same month to continue the spiritual care ministry of Northeast Georgia Health System.

Presently the Department is served by five full-time chaplains, one part-time chaplain and an Administrative Assistant. We provide 24/7 chaplain coverage for the Gainesville and Braselton campuses, as well as providing spiritual services at our Barrow and Lumpkin campuses. We do this through our staff chaplains, our Volunteer Chaplains, our Contract Chaplains and our CPE students.

Volunteer Chaplain Program

Volunteer chaplains serve all five of our hospital campuses and can serve in our three long-term care facilities, New Horizons Limestone, New Horizons Lanier Park and New Horizons Habersham. Volunteer Chaplains serve in 2 to 3-hour shifts. Other than at NGMC Barrow, Volunteer Chaplains do not serve on-call or overnight. Volunteer Chaplains receive the benefit of a free meal after their service!

To become a Volunteer Chaplain, you must first become a member of the Clergy Fellowship. Once you have become a member of the Clergy Fellowship, you will receive a welcome packet. Clergy interested in becoming a Volunteer Chaplain at NGHS must attend a 90-minute orientation, which includes information regarding infection control, responding to codes, protecting the confidentiality of our patients and families, and other reporting procedures.

Upon completion of the Volunteer Chaplain orientation, applicants go through a health screening in our Occupational Health department and sign a release for a background check. Once all these procedures are complete, the prospective Volunteer Chaplain shadows three current Volunteer Chaplains to gain a working knowledge of our processes. After finishing these shadowing shifts, the orientation phase is complete, and the prospective Volunteer Chaplain receives a badge as a full Volunteer Chaplain!

If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Chaplain, contact Rebecca Brandt, our Administrative Assistant at 770-219-5077 to learn when our next Volunteer Chaplain Orientation will be held, or email Rebecca Brandt!

Infection Control

Infection Control is important for you and our patients. The best way to protect the health of our patients is through proper hand hygiene.

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

  • When washing your hands, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a paper towel to dry off your hands. If the sink has a faucet that must be manually turned off, use the paper towel to turn it off. This keeps from reintroducing germs back onto your hands.

Anti-microbial lotion dispensers are inside the doorway of each room. Please use this before and after your visit. Please observe this sign on rooms, which means that the patient is in isolation.

Isolation signs will tell you what type of personal protective equipment (gown, glove, mask) you need to use before entering an isolation room. If you have questions, feel free to ask the patient’s nurse before entering the patient’s room.

Before you leave the Medical Center, it is a good idea to wash your hands.

Emergency Codes

The following are emergency codes of which you need to be aware. When a code is announced overhead, plain language will also be used to explain the nature of the code. Below is a list of some codes that occur in our health system, but this list is not exhaustive.

  • CODE GREEN:  Clinical Assistance is needed. This code occurs when a visitor has fallen.
  • CODE RED:  Fire Response – Do not use elevators while the hospital is under a Code Red.
  • CODE BLUE:  Cardiac/Respiratory Arrest – Stay clear of emergency responders.
  • Code Rainbow::  Pediatric-Cardiac/Respiratory Arrest – Stay clear of emergency responders.
  • CODE PURPLE:  A patient/resident is missing. A description of the patient will be given.
  • CODE WEATHER:  Severe weather approaching.
  • CODE TRIAGE:  External Community Disaster.
  • CODE 33:  Request for Chaplain Services. As a member of the Clergy Fellowship, if possible, please respond to the area where spiritual services are needed.

If you have a question about any of the codes used in our health system, ask any staff member or call the Spiritual Care Office at 770-219-5077.

Patient Confidentiality & HIPAA

HIPAA stands for the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”

In 2003, the Federal Government began enforcing the privacy section of HIPAA. What this has meant for clergy is there is no longer a religious census available for you to browse before you make visits. Confidentiality has become a very important aspect of patient care. Please understand the following as you visit those under your care:

  • To secure the room number of your parishioner from information, you will need their full legal name. A nickname or initials are no longer sufficient.
  • Patients can now come into the hospital and request that they be in a no-information status. This means that their names will not appear on the information desk list. So, even if you may know your congregation member is in the hospital, the information desk will be unable to confirm this. The information desk would say to you, “I have no information regarding that individual.”

Visiting the sick is an important aspect of spiritual care. However, because of the daily activity of patient care and the patient’s right to privacy, please only visit persons from your congregation or friends and/or family connected with your congregation. Visiting persons other than members or their immediate friends and/or family is not permitted unless requested by the patient, the patient’s immediate family, the Medical Staff, or the Department of Spiritual Care. Random room-to-room visitation is not allowed.

If you have questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Spiritual Care Office from 9 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday at 770-219-5077.

Information Regarding Visiting Your Congregation Members

Clergy visits are not restricted to regular hours. However, certain times are better for visiting patients than others. The best time to visit patients in our hospitals is from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Remember that many activities such as doctor visits, medical procedures and baths take place early in the morning. Be aware that most patients will eat lunch between 12 and 1 unless under special dietary regulations.

Religious literature can bring much comfort to those in the hospital. Clergy are encouraged to bring religious literature to patients and family connected with their congregation. However, religious literature is not to be distributed randomly in patients’ rooms, waiting rooms, or public areas. The Spiritual Care Department makes available religious literature for the facility.

If you have a congregation member who is a patient on the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at NGMC Gainesville (located on the 4th floor of the South Patient Tower), these patients will be involved in physical or occupational therapy. They may not be in their rooms. It would be better to visit these patients around lunch or late afternoon.

Often in our emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units, only two family members can visit with patients at any one time. Because of these restrictions, family of your patient may be both in the patient’s room and in our waiting areas.

Visitation at Laurelwood, our Behavioral Health facility located on the Gainesville campus, is limited to certain days and times of the week and subject to the desires and needs of the patient. A patient access code is required for entrance.

You’re almost finished!

Once you have completed reading all of the Orientation materials, please complete the Clergy Orientation Review.

Clergy Orientation Review