Author Archives: Steven McKinney

“Spiritual Teamwork”

Our Admissions coordinator was giving a family tour to a couple recently. Mr. B. was touring to move his sister closer to home. His sister is in the facility in Rockwood, and had also been in our Pigeon Forge facility. I had known her from my banking job for many years.

As they completed the tour, I was able to be introduced to them. Their first response was their thankfulness for chaplains and loving staff in the buildings. Their love for my team-partner Chaplain Brian at Rockwood was evident. They were appreciative of his compassionate heart, his love, and his patience. We shared several stories together about her stay.

The really unique part of the story is that even though his sister’s conditons have changed, and her locations have changed, her care and love has not been disrupted. She has been loved and accepted by our staff in Pigeon Forge, the city where she hoped to retire in an RV village. She then moved to Rockwood due to her medical conditions worsening. There too she was loved and cared for. Now she is coming home, to the hills where she once called home to be loved again in her community. It is times like this when we can really see that what we do makes a difference. I know that we have always yearned for our Signature name to be branded. I truly believe we are there.

It is so evident that we are succeeding in changing LTC, when you see a lady come home, that in her mind, she really never left. Home has been Rogersville, Pigeon Forge, Rockwood and now Rogersville again. All because of giving with compassion and love. That’s spirituality, not religion. The true inter-peace that we get to be a part of. Thank you for our sister facilities that love and care. This moved my heart today. Thank you Pigeon Forge and Rockwood for making a difference in someone’s life. The bar is set high for us to match….but I know we will suceed together. Praises to God for true spiritual teamwork.

The very familiar scripture comes to mind when I think of this dear lady and the locations of each facility:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalm 121:1(KJV)

Thank you God for your help and your love, and for those who show it daily!

Steve McKinney, Director of Spirituality
Signature Healthcare of Rogersville


“A Milky Way and A Prayer”

“A Milky Way and a Prayer”

Today was certainly a new experience for me. I was intercom paged by our nursing staff. I was asked to do an intervention for a resident that had a change in medication that seemingly brought on a change in behavior. Her nurse said they were challenged by her crying, body jerking, and a sense of restlessness.

As I travelled down the hall, I asked God to give me not only the words to comfort, but for the action. I entered the room of a lady I already knew had strength in the Lord and in her faith. Her body was shaking, her eyes swollen from her tears, and her hair a mess from twisting in her bed. She smiled and said “come in Pastor”. I sat on her bed and held her shaking hand. I asked her to tell me her concerns. She explained a change in her medication and that her Parkinson’s was worsening. I suggested we focus on happy things, like her grandchildren, her artwork, and her relationship with God. I felt her hand calming as she shared. I asked her what would bring her comfort. Her response was “prayer”.

We prayed together, first thanking God for his blessings and then specifically for comfort for her troubles. Her trembling completely stopped. I then asked if I could reposition her pillow, to support her head and shoulders. A sigh of relief came from her lips. I then proceeded to ask “if I could get you anything to make you comfortable, what would it be?” She responded “there is a bag of milky ways in my dresser, you’ll have to open it for me”. I placed an open milky way in her steady hand.

As I walked up the hall, our nurse practitioner stopped me and said “What did you do for Mrs. S? She is resting”. My comment you already know: “I gave her a milky way and a prayer”. God blesses us with the little things in life, that mean so much to those we serve.

Chaplain Steve McKinney


Wheelchair Perspective

I wanted to share a personal testimony with you from an experience a few weeks ago:

On May 10th, shortly after Bible study, I became very dizzy and felt faint. I sat down with Chris, one of our nurses, as he proceeded to inform me my blood pressure was 180/100! Immediately I went to the ER at our local hospital. “What does this mean? I’ve never had high blood pressure! I’m 42 and in a hospital!?

In just a few minutes I looked like the back of a VCR, with an IV, an EKG and nurses all around. What happened next is what really stands out in my mind. They placed me in a
wheelchair to be transferred to the X-ray room. A very small, yet strong, young man wheeled me down the hall. I was amazed at how different the hallways, the people, and familiar surroundings looked from the much lower perspective. My mother was a nurse in this hospital, and I grew up visiting her at work many times. These halls look nothing like they used to from down here! I visit there as a chaplain and as a pastor almost weekly, but that day it looked completely different. They looked taller and people appeared giant-like and sometimes even threatening! I felt like everyone was staring at me. Also, I was totally dependent on my helper to guide me and safely maneuver me around.

When I returned back to my room, the event etched into my mind this thought: Our  residents are looking at things from a different perspective. They may be familiar with their surrounding, yet it may be seen from a different angle. Even our demetia patients, sometimes vividly see the past, but the present day may be cloudy or  unreal. Life hasn’t changed-just the prespective.

My prayers are for those of us blessed with the ability to stand and walk, to praise God for  it! But also to understand that many of our dear residents are simply looking at things
from a different angle. God bless those that can’t stand, and God bless those that serve them as well.

In praises to God, all bloodwork came back well and a simple change in diet and a small pill seems to have made life better. I just wanted to share this story. It really opened my
heart and mind to a different level.

Rev. Steve McKinney,Director of Spirituality
Signature Healthcare of Rogersville

Chicken With the Chaplain

In addition to my Chaplaincy here at Signature, I also serve as a Missionary Baptist youth pastor. As you know, the Baptist faith is ribbed often by our like of chicken (and mostly it is true). The idea started as a joke, but our HR and myself actually saw it as canny.

We first met with our night-shift around 9:00 on a Thursday evening. This was by suggestion of our evening charge nurse as the best time. Tammy, our HR, brought in two buckets of KFC and we served it to the night-shift. We stayed until everyone had a chance to come by. Also, we allowed the staff to share concerns/ideas with us as well as to really meet me in person and to share any needs spiritually they might have. They really appreciated our visit and I truly felt a trust-building relationship develop.

Just last week, we met them with homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk from our chef. Again we just meet them with appreciation and allow them to voice areas of concern as well as prayer needs.

I really feel that their morale has been boosted. I know mine has. Too often I beleive they are the “forgotten” spoke in the wheel that keeps this revolution turning.

Rev. Steve McKinney, Director of Spirituality
Signature Healthcare of Rogersville

A Glow You Can’t Explain . . .

I was out with our HCBS director yesterday doing some marketing for our HCBS and our facility. We were at a local retirement community in our area hosting a Christmas lunch.

As I scanned the crowd, I saw a tall, somewhat younger, gentleman in the back of the room. He was smiling at me. I made my way to him to find that he was a local home builder, that in my earlier job as a lumber salesman, I had waited on for years. His body was frail and his hair mostly gone, but his smile was the same.

I sat down with “Earl” and quickly found that our conversation would be extensive. He shared how he had lost everything he had worldly; his home, his cars and even his business due to illness. Even his wife had left him due to the emotional and physical overloads. But, he never stopped smiling.

There was a “glow” to him. I really can’t explain. I could see where the illness had damaged him physically. His hair was mostly gone, he stumbled when he stood, and his body was contorted due to the illness progressing. But he had a “brightness” to him. His shirt was starched perfectly. His pants were perfectly clean and I had never seen shoe laces tied so perfectly. His eyes glistened as he spoke.

I was blessed to be able to walk him back to his apartment after the meal. He said as we slowly made our way to his place, “don’t ever forget that whatever happens, God remains by your side”. As we stopped to look at a pile of building materials the complex had purchased for a new roof, he said “You don’t know how much I wish I could work everyday. So many people complain about their jobs, but I wish I could go to work, as I once did”.

I left Earl sitting in his recliner and placed his “to go” plate in the refrigerator. I opened the door and said “I will see you again soon Earl”. His reply “I can’t wait”.

This day will stand out in my mind for a long time. Sometimes we forget what God really does. How He heals wounds, how He fixes our brokeness. But also how He sends us a glimmer of His love through those that we serve. Thank you God and thank you Earl for allowing me to see the healing that comes from above.

Steve McKinney, Chaplain
Signature Healthcare of Rogersville