Pastoral Services

From pre-surgery prayer to pastoral counsel and worship services, our professional, caring ministers are always available to offer spiritual and emotional support to patients and families of all faiths.

Request a chaplain

To request a chaplain during your stay, call

717-531-8177 or ask your nurse to make a referral

Our chaplains support patients and their families by attending to their spiritual and emotional needs
Our chaplains support patients and their families by attending to their spiritual and emotional needs

Quick links

Professional education

Learn more about our clinical pastoral educational opportunities

Chaplain services

Our chaplains are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support patients and their families. We provide:

  • Spiritual, emotional, and sacramental support
  • Pastoral care and counseling
  • Empathic listening
  • Consultations on difficult decisions

The Pastoral Services department ensures that patients of all faiths have their spiritual needs met in accordance with their faith tradition.

Our Interfaith Chapel is open at any time for prayer or meditation. It is located near the south entrance of the medical center. See the campus map (PDF). We offer two regular services in the Interfaith Chapel:

  • Catholic mass: Tuesday at noon
  • Jumu'ah prayer service: Friday at 1:30 p.m

Our ministerial staff offers attentive care and counseling to patients and their families.

Meet our chaplains

David Simmons, Staff ChaplainDavid Simmons, Director of Pastoral Services

The Reverend David B. Simmons, DMin, BCC, serves as the Director of Pastoral Services. With 25 years ministry experience, David served congregations in Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania before coming to Hershey Medical Center in 2011. David is a graduate of the Clinical Pastoral Education residency program at Hershey and has conducted research in emotional crisis and faith, provider-patient communication, post-traumatic growth, and the spirituality of men in crisis. He has served the Neuroscience Critical Care Unit, the Medical Intensive Care Unit, Palliative Care, and Trauma Services.

David coordinates a 30+ member team of chaplain educators, chaplain interns, chaplain residents, staff chaplains, and chaplain associates. David is an ordained Baptist minister and is endorsed for ministry through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. David holds a Masters of Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. David is currently completing a Master of Health Administration degree at the Penn State Harrisburg. He is board certified in chaplaincy through the Association of Professional Chaplains. He is married with three children and enjoys photography, horology, and music.

David Carnish, CPE SupervisorDavid Carnish, Manager, Clinical Pastoral Education

David Carnish is the Manager, Clinical Pastoral Education in our department. Prior to coming to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, he has supervised clinical pastoral education programs at Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, TN and Cone Health in Greensboro, NC. He is a native of Milledgeville, GA. 

David is an ordained Baptist minister endorsed by The Alliance of Baptists. He graduated from Valdosta State College with a B.A. in Philosophy and a Minor in Sociology. He received his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY. He has worked as a chaplain since 1990, serving in nursing home, community, hospice, religious and Level I Trauma hospital contexts.  He has also served as an interim pastor and associate minister with congregations. 

He became a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains in 1999. He has training in critical incident stress debriefing with the International Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Foundation. He became an ACPE supervisor in 2005, receiving his training in Columbia, SC and San Francisco, CA. 

Darlene Miller Cooley, Staff ChaplainDarlene Miller Cooley, Staff Chaplain

The Reverend Darlene M. Miller joined the full-time pastoral services staff in July 2016. Currently her clinical assignments include the Cardiac Care and Neurology departments. She brings a wealth of professional, pastoral, and life experience to the position. Before entering ministry she was an accomplished human resources specialist, Director of Equal Employment Opportunity, certified mediator and trainer with the U.S. Department of Navy and other government organizations.

She received her Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology from West Virginia State University, Institute, West Virginia and Master of Art degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

She is an ordained Baptist minister, has served as associate pastor at Harrisburg churches, and is presently serving as an associate pastor at the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church in Harrisburg, PA. She is a graduate of Hershey Medical Center’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) intern and residency programs. Since 2015 she has served the HMC Department of Pastoral Services as PRN Chaplain Associate and has led the Martin Luther King services for the past two years.

Darlene is a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and has been blessed with traveling to many places. Most recently she traveled to Israel for a two weeks stay. Her most precious memory from this trip was the breath taking allure of the Holy land while walking through the stories she has learned since childhood.

Darlene is married to Michael Cooley, mother of three grown sons and one daughter in law and the grandmother of one beautiful granddaughter. She enjoys reading, sewing, walking, listening to music and supporting her football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Darlene Miller Cooley, Staff ChaplainKelsey O'Brien, Staff Chaplain, Palliative Care and Oncology

Kelsey O’Brien serves as the Palliative and Oncology Chaplain. She came to Hershey Medical Center as a Clinical Pastoral Education student in 2017, where she worked primarily in Women’s Health, Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care, and Adult Oncology units, as well as an on-call trauma chaplain. She is currently seeking board certification through the Association of Professional Chaplains and is in the process of completing her ordination and endorsement as a minister with the United Church of Christ.

Kelsey spent her childhood mostly in north Texas and moved to Chicago to attend college, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Moody Bible Institute. In 2014, she relocated to New Jersey to attend Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated with a Masters of Divinity. Kelsey has extensive experience working with children and young adults – as well as with their parents and grandparents – as a director of family ministries and minister of spiritual formation. Kelsey’s areas of research interest include healthcare ethics, trauma and addiction theory, and “negative” emotions such as fear and grief as a healthy part of human life.

Stephen Payson, Pediatric Oncology Chaplain FellowStephen Payson, Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology Chaplain

Stephen Payson is the Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology Chaplain, dedicated to serving pediatric cancer patients and their loved ones during inpatient and outpatient care. He is an ordained minister with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Stephen completed his Master of Divinity degree at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts in 1994 and was a 1985 graduate of Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine. After 20 years in congregational ministry, Stephen did his chaplaincy training in 2015-16 as a Chaplain Resident at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where he served a variety of patients and families in the Pediatric Intensive Care and Pediatric Acute Care Units, as well as in the Surgical Intensive Care and Internal Medicine Units of the hospital. After completing his residency, Stephen served as the Chaplain Fellow for Pediatric Oncology and is excited to continue providing pastoral care to patients, families, and staff on the Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Unit as the first staff chaplain for pediatric oncology.

Stephen and his wife, Catalina, reside in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, and they have four adult children. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Catalina’s native city and land. In addition to his work as a chaplain, Stephen also serves as interim minister of Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Middletown, PA.

The Interfaith Chapel at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a place for prayer and meditation
Our Interfaith Chapel provides a sanctuary for prayer and meditation.