Allison "Bubba" Simmons is just a few weeks into her new role as chaplain at Iredell Memorial Hospital, but she is quickly becoming a familiar face on campus. As Director of Pastoral Care, she's a resource for patients, families and employees, ministering to people in times of crisis and providing spiritual support.
Simmons earned her bachelor's degree in Religion and Philosophy with a minor in Sociology from Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina and her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. She comes to Iredell Health System after completing her Clinical Pastoral Education Residency at Spartanburg Regional Hospital in South Carolina.
As a part of her introduction to the community, Simmons answered a few questions about how she got into the ministry, and how a girl who grew up in northern Virginia got a nickname "Bubba."
When did you know you wanted to be a hospital chaplain?
People always ask me, "How did you get into ministry?" and my joking answer is usually "kicking and screaming." I grew up with friends and family telling me how great I would be either as a pastor or a youth director. I love the church but I never really felt the call to the church as a permanent ministry. While I was at Gardner-Webb, I took a Pastoral Care and Counseling class and it was as though a light came on in my life. As those classes developed and my journey continued, I was exposed to chaplaincy and it was then I saw that this work was what I was supposed to be doing.
What is your impression of the community and the people here at Iredell Health System?
I relocated to Statesville with my husband, Aaron, and we love it here. I am originally from a big, busy area where businesses generally treat people like numbers to process, even if it's to have your oil changed. I wanted a community and a hospital that cared about people as individuals. I see how Iredell Health System really cares about each person that walks through the doors, from patients and their families to the staff and their families. There is a passion at Iredell Health System, not for the bottom line, but for helping those in the community live healthier lives. That sits with who I am.
What are you looking forward to in your new position?
The excitement of my new position is all the fertile soil, so to speak, that is ready to grow and expand. Tom Sherrod did a great job of building this department and I am excited about building off of that. My soul gets excited about the time I spend with patients, family, and staff and also about the Health System's mission to inspire wellbeing — together.
How did you get the nickname, "Bubba?"
When my mom was pregnant, she worked at a place where she would see a lot of names. She would get inspired and come home with lists of names for my dad. One night, my dad decided he'd had enough of the overflow of names so he said, "if it's a girl it's YO-landa and if it's a boy it's Bubba." After that they always referred to me as "Baby Bubba" and it has stuck my whole life. My dad never calls me Allison and 95% of the people I know don't know my real name is Allison. But Bubba fits me and it's what I prefer.