Pastoral and Spiritual Care
The hospitalization of a child can be a crisis for all who care for and about the child. Part of the work of healing may include addressing the spiritual issues that may surface during a medical crisis.
For some, this means making use of their faith, prayer, scripture and sacraments. For others, it means struggling to feel the presence of God at a time when God can seem distant. For many, it means appreciating the opportunity for companionship and conversation that a chaplain can provide.
The Pastoral Care team can meet religious and spiritual needs for prayer or ritual, provide copies of scriptures from various religious traditions, offer blessings before surgery, one-on-one counseling, sacred play with age-appropriate stories or arrange visits from a religious leader of a specific faith tradition.
We offer one-on-one counseling, traditional rites, prayers and sacred play with age-appropriate stories. Daily devotionals and Sunday worship services also are held in the hospital chapel.
Spirituality of Children
When a child is hospitalized, that child’s world is changed forever. We are honored to provide a hopeful, spiritual presence for children and their families at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
Chapel and Worship Services
For those seeking comforting inspiration, the Haggerty Chapel at Children’s Health℠ Children’s Medical Center Dallas and the Abbott Chapel at Children’s Health Children’s Medical Center Plano are available 24 hours a day.
Bereavement Care Program
The purpose of Bereavement Care is to support patients, families and staff members in their process of grief and at all stages of dying: before, during and after death.
Volunteer Ministry Program
Our volunteer ministry program began in 1999 from a need to reach out to the growing number of patients and families being treated in the Emergency Department (ED) and First Care clinic.
Contact Our Pastoral Care Team
Our chaplains are available to assist children, families and staff on-site, 24 hours a day.
Children’s Medical Center Dallas Campus 214-456-2822
Children’s Medical Center Plano Campus 469-303-2822
If you wish to contact a specific chaplain or care team member, you may call the operator and have them paged.
Meet Our Pastoral Care Team
Children’s Health℠ chaplains are knowledgeable about the developmental and spiritual issues unique to children. They work as part of the pediatric healthcare team, sharing the hospital’s mission to make life better for children.
Our chaplains serve patients and families from all faith traditions, as well as those who are uncertain, searching or just want to talk. Chaplains help patients and families to draw on their own religious and spiritual strengths as they face the issues raised by a child's illness. Chaplains offer support in difficult times, rejoice in times of good news and healing, and pray or listen if patients and families need a caring ear.
The Rev. Doug Watts
As the director of Pastoral Care, The Rev. Doug Watts provides administrative leadership to the department. Doug also provides senior pastoral leadership to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Neuroscience, Psychiatry and all acute care units. He initiated the Children’s Patient Advisory Council that includes pediatric patients who provide direct feedback on their hospital experiences and offer insightful suggestions. He also serves on the ethics committee and provides leadership in the accreditation of regulatory readiness for the hospital. Doug is an ordained United Church of Christ minister. He was certified as an Associate CPE Supervisor in November 1996 and full supervisor in November 1999. Doug completed his CPE residency and supervisory training at Children’s Medical Center Dallas in 1996. He graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with a Master of Divinity. Prior to joining the Pastoral Care Department at Children’s Health, he was a faculty member with the McFarland Institute in New Orleans, LA. While in New Orleans, he established the Pastoral Care Department at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, where he served as director of Pastoral Care and CPE supervisor. He has served as a pastor in Texas, Indiana and Ohio. Presently, Doug serves as on the Professional Ethics Commission in the Southwest region of ACPE. His previous Association of Clinical Pastoral Education experience includes work for the accreditation committee, co-chair of the leadership council and serving on the planning committee for the annual ACPE national meeting. Doug has frequent interface with all of the CPE students and is available to consult with them as needed. He is available for consultation by pager after hours.
The Rev. Melissa Walker-Luckett
The Rev. Melissa Walker-Luckett is an ordained Baptist minister. She graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX in 1984. She is a certified supervisor in the ACPE, Inc. She completed her first ACPE CPE residency at Children’s Medical Center Dallas in 1986 as a member of the second group of residents. Melissa completed her second residency year at Methodist Medical Center of Dallas in 1990 and served as the weekend chaplain. She served as a hospice chaplain for five years prior to joining the Pastoral Care staff at Baylor Healthcare System as chaplain to Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation. As part of her 12-year tenure at Baylor, Melissa completed her ACPE CPE Supervisory training. In June 2007, Melissa joined
the staff of Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System as ACPE CPE supervisor until March 2010 when she joined the ACPE CPE faculty at Children’s Health as Manager of CPE Programs. Although the Children’s Health facilities and programs have changed, it feels like “home” for Melissa. She welcomes each new student and group with the hope that CPE at Children’s Health will be a time of growth and joyful learning.
Vance Goodman is a Quaker chaplain who graduated from Perkins School of Theology in Dallas with a Master of Divinity. While studying at Perkins, she served two years as a resident community campus chaplain for Southern Methodist University. She completed her clinical pastoral education training at Children’s Medical Center. Vance currently ministers to patients, families and staff members in the Heart Center on the Dallas campus as well as serving as Bereavement Coordinator for the hospital. Her interests in ministry include spiritual care for families of children with congenital heart disease, caregiver/staff renewal and bereavement care.
Witek Nowosiad, a native of Poland, is a chaplain and an ACPE supervisor. Witek is Roman Catholic. Witek has been with the Children’s Health Pastoral Care Department since 1998. In 2008, Witek became responsible for the administrative functioning of the department at Children’s Medical Center Plano, where he provides pastoral leadership and leads an ACPE program. In addition, Witek serves on the advisory board for the School of Ministry at the University of Dallas and on the ACPE accreditation committee on the regional and national levels. Finally, Witek expresses his creativity in reading/writing and the practice of poetry as healer with patients, families and staff and in his pastoral supervision.
Ryan Campbell is a Roman Catholic Ecclesial Lay minister. He received a Master of Theological Studies from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. He completed his clinical pastoral education training at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. He has been board-certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. He served for two years as a staff chaplain at UT Southwestern University Hospitals, St. Paul and Zale-Lipshy, and is currently on staff at Children’s Medical Center Dallas as program manager for the Center for the Spirituality of Children. Ryan also ministers to patients, families and staff in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. He has completed a graduate certificate in the Spiritual Guidance of Children at General Theological Seminary in New York, studying under the Rev. Dr. Jerome Berryman. His interests in ministry include children’s spirituality, palliative care, grief and bereavement care.
The Rev. Ugonna Onuoha
The Rev. Ugonna Onuoha is an ordained deacon of the United Methodist Church. Originally from Item Abia State, Nigeria, Ugonna moved to Dallas 17 years ago when her husband came to study at the SMU Perkins School of Theology. Ugonna holds a degree in economics from the Abia State University, Nigeria, a master’s degree in religious education from Southern Methodist University and eight units of CPE. Ugonna joined Children's Medical Center Dallas in August 1998 as a chaplain resident, and became a staff chaplain in 2001.
Ugonna is the night chaplain providing care and hope to patients, their families and the staff. Under Ugonna's collaboration, the dedicated Pastoral Care night staff formed a night council to draw attention to the needs of those working overnight hours and also perform community events such as semi-annual blood and food drives. Ugonna remains active in her own church community and teaches a popular Sunday school class and participates in community and foreign missions. Ugonna's ministry interests include providing care for caretakers, children's ministry, discipleship and evangelism.
Karen Eckenfels is the office manager for the Pastoral Care Department. She came to Children’s Health in 2001 with 30 years of hospital administrative experience. Karen graduated from Amberton University with a B.B.A. in management. She coordinates Pastoral Care’s Volunteer Ministry program and provides administrative support for the Children’s Health Ethics committee.