When you come to a Catholic hospital, in what ways do you expect the care you receive to be different from the care provided at a non-Catholic hospital?
Director of Mission at St John of God Murdoch Hospital Colin Keogh says that it is not with the clinical delivery of health care that the difference lays.
“Of course, people expect a high standard of professional medical care – that all the doctors and nurses are going to do what they are trained to do,” Mr Keogh says.
“It’s the other, more undefinable elements of care that are pushed to the fore at a time when you are most vulnerable.”
It’s the hope that when you are alone in your hospital bed, feeling frightened, alone and unsure, that there will be a person, or a team of people, who will care for every aspect of your being, not just as a patient in bed 12.
“Catholic Health care delivers person-centred care that meets not only physical needs, but emotional and spiritual needs; respecting the dignity of each and every person,” Mr Keogh says.
When sharing his experience of a stay at a Catholic hospital, the late Bishop Michael Putney (1946 – 2014) talked about his expectation that staff would “walk the extra yard” to help him recover from illness.
“Because it was a Catholic hospital and therefore a work of the Church, and therefore in some way carrying on the work of Christ…it owed it to Him and not just to the patient, in justice, to deliver what it said it would,” Bishop Putney said.
“How could it claim to be Catholic…and not do its absolute best?”
“(To provide) that exquisite kind of respect and care, which in simple terms is called love. “People will care about you, not just for you.” Bishop Putney also spoke of the importance of providing people with the space they need to quietly reflect on their lives.
“The experience of God is in the ordinary things of life – one can only be aware of this if one is attentive to his presence.”
“This attentiveness is only possible if there’s not just busyness and noise but also quiet, silence, tranquillity, otherwise we can never be attentive because the noise of contemporary life is deafening.”
He acknowledged the challenges in doing so but felt a Catholic facility had the capacity to create moments of tranquillity and an atmosphere of peace and calm.
“When people are dealing with such serious stuff such as their fragility, their age, their sickness, the capacity to be attentive is something we ought to offer them as well.”
Catholic health care organisations are committed to enabling all people to flourish and live full and rich lives. Social outreach programs reach those in the community in need who might not have access to health care services.
“As a Ministry of the Catholic Church, we model our care on the healing Mission of Jesus Christ and give people a reason to hope at a time when they might not be able to find hope.”
“We strive to connect with people at all stages of life, at birth and death, and all stages in between; at times of joy and most particularly, times of suffering,” Mr Keogh says.
There is a difference in the genuine smile, the welcome that is open to you, the eyes that see the anxiety, the hand that gently touches and heals, the ear that really listens and the attention that hears the emotional need. These connections, which happen instantly, are motivated by the desire to be a better care-giver. It is that generosity of spirit that lights up a room for the patient.