Maury Regional takes innovative approach to palliative care


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — The Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) palliative and pastoral care teams have unique ways of ensuring patients are cared for in every aspect — body, mind and spirit.

Palliative care is specialized care focusing on the relief of pain, symptoms and stress associated with a chronic illness. The team works alongside pastoral care to ease a patient’s suffering and improve their quality of life by any feasible means, no matter the request.

“Being able to help patients and families not only to heal physically, but helping with that emotional and spiritual need, I don’t think you see the services we offer in other places,” said Tammy Stokes, director of palliative care for Maury Regional Health (MRH). “When you talk about spirituality and what’s going on within the walls of this hospital, there are so many great things being done. The culture here is so person-centered — mind, body and spirit — that if there’s a need, we’re going to go out of our way to make that happen.”

One of the most special ways the palliative and pastoral care teams provide for MRMC’s patients is the portable baptistery, a gift provided by the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation early last year.

At most hospitals, baptisms take place outside a patient’s room, which typically involves transporting the patient to another area of the hospital and back again. Now, at MRMC, the baptistery comes directly to the patient — allowing the baptism to be safely done bedside in the patient’s room.

“To provide that comfort at the end of life is something we’re always happy to do, and we jump at the opportunity to provide that peace of mind. It’s a huge part of the care that we provide,” Stokes said.

The pool is 3 feet by 6 feet — small enough that it still fits in an elevator — and takes about an hour and a half to fill and empty. It also has a heater and circulator pump.

It’s used a handful of times per year, and each time provides a moving experience for all involved.

“No one else, as far as I know, is doing this,” MRMC Chaplain Lyndall Propst said. “One of the first times I heard applause in the hospital was following a baptism. You don’t always hear applause in a hospital, but that’s such a joyful time.”

Propst works alongside local churches to perform the baptisms and even weddings for patients with serious illnesses. It’s all about providing them the upmost care at the most difficult times.

He isn’t only focused on helping patients, though. He also lends a hand to make sure MRH employees are cared for through grief support and resilience training. He helped establish Code Lavender, which is a peer support intervention that provides staff with emotional support following a difficult experience.

“We have people we have to take care of, and we’ll find any way to do that so they can then provide the best care for our patients,” Propst said.

The MRMC palliative care team is supported by the Foundation’s Dr. Maura Lipp Palliative Care Fund, which helps to cover maintenance costs for the portable baptistery, among other things. Visit to learn more or donate.

For more information on palliative care services at MRMC, visit

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