In today’s hospital environment, our main focus is placed on technology, medications and treating a diagnosis. Often patients are wheeled from one examination to another with little personal interaction received from their healthcare provider. Patients are hooked up to monitors alarming endlessly due to staff being either unavailable to silence them or not having the compassion to comfort. Technology has become so dominant in hospital settings that we have lost sight of providing the loving care aspect of our profession. Dehumanizing our patients will not heal them; our current practices could actually cause more harm.
Healing Hospitals are now surfacing around the country with the concept supporting a culture of caring. This does not mean that technology has been pushed aside; a Healing Hospital incorporates technology as well as the whole patient, body, mind and spirit. To understand the concepts of a Healing Hospital, we can examine the work of Erie Chapman, founding president and chief executive officer of the Baptist Healing Trust in Nashville, Tennessee. On October 1, 1998, Chapman took the reins of The Baptist Hospital System and unbeknownst to him, many financial and emotional challenges would be awaiting.
He defines them as tornados, one being an actual tornado causing structural damage to the hospital earlier that year and the other being an inside (corporation) financial tornado. The latter would be more challenging for him, leading a company that is $83 million dollars worse off than what he was told (Chapman, 2007). His first step was to develop a mission and value statement for the hospital. According to Chapman, “A Healing Hospital is a place characterized by thousands of small and wonderful things and a few big ones”. “At the Center is love”.
(Chapman, 2007, p.15). Under his leadership, the concept of the Healing Hospital was born with the primary focus being on clinical excellence and loving care with financial success being secondary. Chapman further defines a Healing Hospital and Radical Loving Care environment to possess the following: all employees will treat patients with loving care, every leader will treat staff with respect and love, all hires must exemplify a Servants Heart, employees’ reviews will be based on outcomes and people who cannot uphold the mission of the hospital will be terminated.
The expectations laid out before leaders and frontline employees were simple yet powerful. If compassion and love is not exchanged between co-workers, than how can loving care reach the patient. A Servants Heart is an essential characteristic of all health care workers, they must have a passion to serve and show empathy to those in need. The Baptist Healing Trust’s, Compassionate Care Initiative, further states, “Because we believe in the humanity and dignity of each human being as created by God, we deem that care must be compassionate in order to be truly healing” ( Baptist Healing Trust ).
A Healing Hospital embraces the religious teachings of Jesus and encourages employees to demonstrate compassionate and unconditional love as Jesus did when caring for their patients. Chapman’s echoes the message sent by Jesus, do unto others as you would want others to do unto you. For this writer, the way in which the patients’ gown is described as humiliating and how health care providers need to see the suffering behind the gown had a spiritual meaning. People seeking Jesus were suffering and ashamed of their appearance.
Jesus did not look down upon them or ridicule them; instead he showed respect, compassion and took care of their wants. Chapman outlines five barriers that leaders face when changing the culture of their organization and each barrier, in some fashion, influences the other. First and foremost, change begins at the leadership level. Leaders are role models. Leaders must demonstrate the mission in order for frontline caregivers to follow suit. If leadership is lacking than failure is imminent. A significant barrier to overcome is the mindset that technology is everything.
This attitude has resulted in healthcare providers losing sight of the emotional needs of the patient. In summarizing Chapman, who of us wants our most agonizing and dying days attended by a robot versus the loving touch of a human. Another hurdle CEO’s and leader’s come across is maintaining transparency in regards to the financial operations of the organization. Hospitals are a business and profits need to be made but how financial information is communicated and delivered will influence patient care delivery on the frontline.
When employees feel that making a profit takes precedence over patient care, the attitude will be “are we here to make money or take care of sick patients”. Those with the passion to serve others, your Servant’s heart employees, will become frustrated and look for an organization where patient care comes first. The hands of bureaucracy and the minds of cynicism play a role when an environment is transforming into new practices. How leaders approach their employees and the communication style they use will dictate how accepting people will be to these new ideas.
Leaders can not stand in the shadows and expect change to occur; it is paramount that they are visibly. When staff feel unsupported it will be reflective in their work, the negative and cynical attitudes will be present and the dissatisfaction with leadership will be heard in the hallways. Change is doable but it takes a courageous and steadfast leadership team to build a new environment. As stated above, there are several components of a Healing Hospital, but one can not forget that the teachings of Jesus are vital in sustaining the work.
For this author, the bible passage of Mark 7: 53-56, The Healings at Gennesaret, correlates with the mission of a healing hospital. The passage reads that when Jesus arrived at Gennesaret that people immediately recognized him and scurried about their surroundings bringing the sick to him. “Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel of his cloak; and as many that touched it were healed”. This writer interpretation is when people recognize your facility as a healing environment they will seek your touches in hope of healing their illness.
The word will spread of your great deeds and others will come from miles around to surrender their care into your hands. Hospitals are taking the blueprint of The Baptist Healing Trust and incorporating their concepts into their facilities. Mercy Gilbert, in Gilbert, Arizona is just one facility in the country that has followed in the tracks of Baptist. According to Laurie Eberst, CEO of Mercy Gilbert, the outside construction of the hospital was irrelevant; the culture inside the building mattered.
Eberst implemented healing trademarks such as; a noise-free environment, privacy access for patients going for testing and most importantly choosing the right staff to care for their patients. This writer works has been inside Mercy Gilbert and can acknowledge the facility as being one of healing. Outside the patients rooms are touch pads, engraved with the words, “Pause, Reflect, Heal” a wonderful reminder for staff of the sacred nature of their work. Erie Chapman is daring all healthcare leaders to make a change in their day to day operations by treating the whole patient, body, mind and spirit.
Technology is important but should not be at the threshold. Only time will tell which leaders are up to the challenge of creating a healing environment with an abundance of compassion and love. References Baptist Healing Trust. (n. d. ). Our Mission http://www. baptisthealingtrust. org/about-us/who-we-are Baptist Healing Trust. (n. d. ). Radical Loving Care. http://www. baptisthealingtrust. org/programs/compassionate-care-initiative Chapman, E. (2007). Radical loving care: Building the healing hospital in America. Nashville, TN: Vaughn Printing.
Eberst, L. Healing Hospital. Retrieved August 23, 2011 from: http://www. bestcompaniesaz. com/pdf/HealingHospital. pdf Erie Chapman. Retrieved August 24, 2011 from: http://journalofsacredwork. typepad. com/about. html University of Minnesota. 2007-2011. Taking Charge of Your Health. Retrieved August 24, 2011 from: http://www. takingcharge. csh. umn. edu/explore-healing-practices/healing- environment/what-happening-healthcare-settings-today Holy Bible (2004-2005 ed). The New American Bible. Wichita, Kansas. Fireside Bible Publishers.