The Rev. William Jeffrey Flowers, director of Pastoral Care at Augusta University Health, has been named a 2017 Hospital Hero by the Georgia Hospital Association. Chaplain Flowers, one of just nine individuals statewide to receive this award, is being recognized for more than 20 years of compassionate counseling of patients, families, and health care colleagues, as well as his leading role in the expansion of the Pastoral Care department.
“Some of the beautiful and personal touches that Jeff and his team have established over the years are the Ash Wednesday services during the Easter season and the Blessing of the Hands for National Nurses Week,” said Lee Ann Liska, CEO of AU Medical Center. “Whether counseling a patient, a family member, or even one of our own caregivers, Jeff has a caring heart and a compassionate spirit. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Hospital Hero title than Jeff. He really is a hero to the entire AU Health community.”
When Flowers joined AU Health in 1994, he was the only chaplain for the hospital and clinics associated with the Medical College of Georgia. Today, he has grown the Pastoral Care program to four full-time chaplains, a full-time resident, a part-time chaplain, and more than a dozen chaplain volunteers who share his vision for providing meaningful ministry to patients and families as they navigate the sometimes difficult waters of health care.
“Jeff’s careful, compassionate presence assists families in making the best decisions at some of the most critical times,” said the Rev. Brennan Francois, associate director of Pastoral Care. “He offers his ears and his heart to families who are going through tough times, but he also extends his counseling to fellow employees, because being a caregiver in a hospital can also create stress and heartache.”
Chaplain Flowers is a member of the International Critical Incident Stress Management Foundation and a Certified Trauma Counselor. He is an expert in advance directives and spiritual counseling on end-of-life decisions. He also serves on the hospital ethics committee and is an advocate for families participating in the Living Donor program.
Chaplain Flowers received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion from Mars Hill College in 1981. He was awarded the Master of Divinity degree in 1984 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and completed eight units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Following his CPE certification, Chaplain Flowers served as the Director of Pastoral Care for the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation from 1984-1990 and as Chaplain Coordinator for the Baylor University Medical Center from 1990-1994. In May 2005, he completed doctoral work through Erskine Theological Seminary and was granted the Doctor of Ministry degree with a dissertation focusing on the education of health care workers concerning the spiritual nature of illness.
Chaplain Flowers works with the Pastoral Care team to host monthly support groups, quarterly and annual memorial services, an annual clergy conference, and weekly meetings for the team to recharge in order to be more effective for ministry. He has been instrumental in creating a chaplain residency program and educating medical students in the areas of ethics, faith, medicine, and spirituality. An ordained minister, Flowers has published several articles in the area of spirituality and health care.
“The emotional aspect of healing and patient care is just as important as the physical recovery,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “Thanks to Chaplain Flowers, patients and families at Augusta University Health receive the spiritual support that is so important. He is a most-deserving recipient of this award.”
AU Health previously had a GHA Hospital Hero in 2009, when the late Patricia Sodomka, former Senior Vice President of Patient- and Family-Centered Care, was honored for her pioneering work in improving patient engagement.
Founded in 1929, GHA serves more than 170 hospitals in Georgia and promotes the health and welfare of the public through the development of better hospital care for all Georgia’s citizens. The mission of GHA is to advance the health of individuals and communities by serving as the leading advocate for all Georgia hospitals and health care systems. GHA represents its members before the General Assembly and Congress, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies, and is an allied member of the American Hospital Association.