Caring For People, Both Physically And Spiritually
At Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals, the spiritual aspect of patient care is an integral component of the mission, woven deeply into the fabric of the daily lives of the physicians and staff.
It's also evidence of a genuine commitment by the board of trustees and administration.
Sister Nancy Hendershot, CSA, Providence's new vice president of mission and ministry, recently outlined some of more salient reasons why the care at Providence is so meaningful.
"This is a Catholic, Christian hospital," says Sister Nancy. "And both of those terms are very, very important. For example, in the area of charity care, we recognize that the poor are always among us and that we have a responsibility to respond to their health care needs.
This is a Christian recognition, as well as a Catholic value.
"Our philosophy of health care is to meet the needs of the times and the community by a faith-based expression of concern for the sick, suffering and dying," she explains, "and to manifest love, truth, and justice in all that we do.
"We honor the traditions of all faiths, recognizing that God can touch lives in many ways. But within this particular setting, we ensure that Catholic and Christian values are present, and we work with others as leavening - leavening for the bread of life, if you will.
Leavening does nothing by itself. It's used to empower something larger. And that's our role - to empower the people working at Providence in living these values.
"Our physicians and staff are critical to each other. And we share the same goals. Our physicians entrust their patients to us, and we have an obligation to provide a climate that's conducive to good care and better health for those patients.
And it's our obligation to be as attentive as possible to patient care in the spiritual sense as well as the physical sense.
"Whether we have direct patient contact or we're doing the behind-the-scenes kinds of jobs that support our patients, it's our obligation to treat all of our patients in a respectful manner, because inherent in our value system is a deep sense of respect for every person.
"After all," Sister Nancy explains, "we value the presence of God in everyone's life, whether they recognize it or not."
People who work in a hospital are under enormous stress because of the high-pressure environment that is health care today.
Sister Nancy has a unique prescription for dealing with that stress while delivering the highest level of care and compassion.
It's for staff members at Providence to continually ask themselves: How would you want your mother to be treated? How would you want her to be treated if she were a patient, of course, but also how would you want her to be treated if she were a co-worker? A volunteer? A physician? Or a member of a patient's family?
The key to that philosophy, according to Sister Nancy, is a mutual support system.
"Our employees, our volunteers and our physicians are part of a very special community - a community of faith. One of the things that makes this place and these people so wonderful is that we pray with each other, and we also pray for each other.
"That enables our people to be more comfortable themselves," she concludes, "so they can be more comfortable taking care of our patients and their families."