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.
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: Wednesday 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, DMin, BCCDirector 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.Biography
David Carnish, MDivClinical Pastoral Education Manager
The Rev. David Carnish leads the clinical pastoral education (CPE) program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as manager. An ordained Baptist minister, he has served as a chaplain since 1990 in Level I Trauma hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and churches. He was also as an interim pastor and associate minister at Baptist churches in Louisville, Ky., and San Francisco.
Previously, Carnish supervised clinical pastoral education programs at Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C. He graduated from Valdosta State College in Valdosta, Ga., with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and received his Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. In 2020, Carnish earned a Master of Arts in interdisciplinary humanities from Penn State and is currently working toward a doctorate in art history at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University.Biography
Kenton Derstine, MDiv, DMinClinical Pastoral Educator
Kenton T. Derstine joined the Pastoral Services staff at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 2020. Certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), he has served as a pastoral educator for more than 25 years. He earned his master’s of divinity from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., and a Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
After completing his training at Indiana University Health, Derstine became a CPE supervisor and later CPE program manager at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. He also served as director of CPE and field education at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va. In addition to his position at Hershey Medical Center, Derstine is an associate faculty member at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C.Biography
Brittany Powell, MDivClinical Pastoral Educator
Rev. Brittany Powell serves as a clinical pastoral educator (CPE) at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Previously, she was a CPE-Certified Educator Candidate and Chaplain Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads in Falls Church, Va. She has also served as a chaplain for Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care in Newark, Del. Originally from Atlanta, Powell earned a master’s of divinity from the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and is endorsed for ministry through the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Currently, Powell is preparing for the final phase of her certification as a chaplain educator by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.Biography
Darlene Miller Cooley, MDivStaff 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.Biography
Kelsey O'Brien, MDivStaff 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.Biography
Stephen Payson, MDivFour 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.Biography