This time of year is an opportunity for those of us in health care to recall what inspires us. In the weeks that preceded Christmas, volunteers and donors flooded shelters, food banks and hospitals but the needs don’t end after the New Year begins. The needs are still great in the area of health care too. This new year time provides opportunity to recommit ourselves to our Catholic health care mission — continuing the healing work of Jesus.
In the Gospels we read many stories where Jesus travels to see those who are unwell, bringing his kindness to their doorstep. Jesus treating the sick in their own home environment is a sign of his respect for them — a recognition of their dignity. Saint Alphonsus Health System tries to imitate this action of Jesus by providing care, if not in, at least close to home for those in need.
I am also reminded of Jesus’ action every time someone comes through our hospital doors to receive our care. As they come to us, our offer of an hospitable environment is another way we seek to continue the healing ministry of Jesus.
For Saint Alphonsus Health System, taking care of those in need means not only finding a cure for ailments.
It includes seeking ways to encourage health and ways to provide opportunities that promote wellness. Activities fostering healthy choices for persons of all ages are part of that attention to the whole person.
Each individual regardless of social status or wealth is created in the image and likeness of God. Each is of unique value and is deserving of profound respect.
Each individual will also at some point need health care. In Catholic health care and at Saint Alphonsus, we hope all will feel as if they have been shown respect and compassion while having had their needs — of body, mind and spirit — met.
When we began the expansion of the emergency room facilities at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise recently, we had these values of respect and compassion in mind.
The expansion was prompted by the increasing demand for trauma and emergency services, but the design is driven by the awareness that visitors to an emergency room deserve as much privacy, comfort and compassion as we can effectively provide in that setting.
I hope these values of respect and compassion will be priorities as Idaho continues to grapple with health care reform. Decisions made in the implementation of reform must be based on consideration of the health needs of all Idahoans, especially those with fewer resources. The basic call of our faith to treat each other as the images of God we are created to be is the call for dignity, respect and compassion. I invite you to join me in reflecting on how we can integrate these values of the season into all that we do each day, in health care and everywhere.
Sister Beth Mulvaney is mission educator with Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.