In the latest installment of our conversations with Fort Worth newsmakers, Chaplain Carla Campbell, with the Spiritual Care and Ethics team at JPS Health Network, discusses what you can do to make the holidays special for a loved one who’s hospitalized.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For a longer version, please listen to the audio file attached to this article.

Alexis Allison: So Chaplain Carla, first, happy holidays.

Carla Campbell: Thank you. Happy holidays to you.

Allison: May I ask: What does celebrating the holidays look like for you?

Campbell: Wow. It is a time of family. Family comes together. There’s a little bit of gift-giving. There’s a lot of laughing. A lot of laughing. We typically go to our place of worship. And believe it or not, we go to the movies. And a lot of cookies, a lot of cookies.

Allison: Do you have a favorite cookie recipe?

Campbell: I love peanut butters. I have a peanut butter cookie that has been passed down from my grandmother.

Allison: I love that. Thank you for sharing. Well, the holidays are upon us, but I know that for some people who are hospitalized or who have a loved one who’s hospitalized, it may not feel that way. I’d like to ask first: For people who are staying at JPS overnight during the holidays, does the hospital or your Spiritual Care and Ethics team do anything to bring in some cheer?

Campbell: Yes, we do. Because we have such a diverse patient population and this time of the year can mean different things to different people, I think what we really do well at JPS is trying to meet the needs of each patient as a team. That’s the doctors, the nurses, the chaplains, all coming around that patient to try to meet their needs. And so for those patients where the holiday has memories of joy, and some of those joys may include songs, I’ve actually seen nurses try to play music — the favorite songs for the patients. 

Also, family is very important. Throughout the hospital, we do have the capability of connecting patients with their families via video chatting applications. All of our floors are equipped with iPads, the chaplain department has iPads, and we try to facilitate setting up Zoom family gatherings for the patients and their family members so that they can feel a part of the family gathering the traditions that they’re used to. 

Also for those families or those patients that you mentioned that this is not the time of cheer, this may be a season of grief for them. That’s where especially we as chaplains, we try to be present for those patients. Sometimes just sitting with a patient and holding their hand and letting them share, tearfully, their memories of their loved ones brings comfort to them during this time. And so it really is an array of things that we try to do here at JPS to meet the patient’s need for where they’re at at this time of the year.

Allison: Thank you for sharing those examples. For people who may be brainstorming ways to celebrate with their hospitalized loved one this week, first, are there any specific restrictions for what families or loved ones can or can’t bring into JPS if they want to celebrate?

Campbell: Yes. This is an environment of healing, so we want all of the patients’ family members to be a part of our community of healing and recovery. They can go to and they can find more information about our overnight-stay restrictions, our visitor restrictions and our mask mandates to help them as they’re coming to participate in the process of healing for their loved one.

Allison: Are there any other considerations that you would recommend visitors make as they’re planning their celebration?

Campbell: We want them to connect with their loved ones, but there are other families that are here in the hospital as well. And so just be mindful of things like noise levels in the rooms, and just being courteous of the other patients that are here.

Allison: Well, with those limitations in mind, what are some ways that people can celebrate with their loved ones? 

Campbell: I’m glad you asked that. They can bring the holidays to their loved ones. They can bring in their faith traditions, they can bring in their family traditions. For example, in the chaplain department, we partner with the families and their patients to help bring in different spiritual leaders that are meaningful to the patients. 

Also, family members can bring in some little treats for the patients as long as it is in line with their dietary requirements from the doctors. I’ve seen family members set up little photos of family members, come in with their ugly Christmas sweaters to the patient’s rooms. 

One of the things they can do on Christmas Day is, again, (harness) the power of video chatting. They can video chat on their phones and just let grandma see their little grandchild, and to be a part of the Christmas gift-opening time. We can help with that. And we love to facilitate those types of connectivities and meaningful engagements with the family. 

In fact, as a (Level 1 Trauma Center), we do get patients from all over the metro area. There’s a specific case that I’m thinking of where we have a patient’s family that was over two hours away from the Fort Worth metro area. And their loved one was in the hospital. The doctors, the nurse of the patient, we all got together. And we were able to connect that family with a lodging resource that was very close to JPS. And so now this family is going to be able to come and visit their loved one, be with their loved one on a routine basis. 

Allison: Thank you so much for this Chaplain Carla. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Campbell: I just want to encourage families to be a part to come and see your loved ones to connect with them. Relationships are the key things that really are meaningful to our patients. And so if they’re able to come in and bring a little bit of the holiday cheer or connect with somebody who’s grieving, we encourage them to do so and be a part of our healing community.

What if you don’t have a loved one in the hospital, but still want to help?

You can serve patients by volunteering at JPS Health Network, or donating to the JPS Foundation.

Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Alexis AllisonHealth Reporter

Alexis Allison covers health for the Fort Worth Report. When she can, she'll slip in an illustration or two. Allison is a former high school English teacher and hopes her journalism is likewise educational....