Religious order advocates humanizati­on of health care

- By Rory Visco Contributo­r

There was a time when people never really went to a hospital whenever a member of the family, whether young or old, had an ailment.

There was a time when a doctor was called a “family physician” or “family doctor” because they conducted home visits since most hold clinics within the town or city, checks on a family member and most likely will check all the others. Then as the doctor leaves, almost the entire family sees him off at the door, waving goodbyes and expressing wholeheart­ed gratitude for the visit.

The doctor, then, was seen as if he (most family doctors then were male) is a member of the family, some even staying for a quick chitchat while having sips of black coffee and partaking of native snacks with the heads of the household. They were almost never in a rush to go back to the clinic.

That was a time when doctors looked at people as human beings and not just patients. They were willing to go out of their way to provide service and proper care to cure people not just of their sickness but be an eager ear as well, willing to listen to other concerns,

not just medical.

Humanizing health care

Humanizati­on in health care is defined as a state of well-being involving affection, dedication, respect for the other, to consider the other person as a complete and complex being.

Just recently, the St. Camillus Center for Humanizati­on in Health (SCCHH), an institutio­n with the mission of taking the lead in the developmen­t and engagement of pastoral care, health, and wellness programs for the humanizati­on of health care, was launched virtually. it was made possible with the support of the Camillians’ longtime partners, namely, unilab inc., Ritemed Philippine­s inc. and the alaga sa Kalusugan ng Pamayanan (akap) program.

under the SCCHH, their modules on pastoral care in health such as Covid-19 infection Prevention and Control in Home and Community Setting, Grief Counseling, Pastoral Care for the Sick and the Elderly,

Compassion Fatigue, Role of the Health Care Workers in Humanizati­on of Health, understand­ing Dementia, Hospice and Palliative Care, among others. These can be tailored by the Center for specific target participan­ts. The Center also offers health and wellness programs, online stress debriefing and self-care activities.

There is also a unique but critically relevant service most especially at this time, the St. Camillus Center for Listening, which provides a by-appointmen­t service for online, phone, or face-to-face meetings.

SCCHH’S programs follow the three strategic thrusts of the country’s universal Health Care (UHC) provisions: 1) Financial risk protection through expansion in enrollment and benefit delivery of the national Health insurance Program (nhip); 2) improved access to quality hospitals and health-care facilities; and 3) attainment of healthrela­ted millennium Developmen­t Goals (mdgs).

The SCCHH is ready to provide help

“WHEN we are sick, injured, or facing an existentia­l life crisis, those are our greatest human need—to be treated with loving kindness and compassion. it speaks volumes because not only does it help in the physical healing process, but it contribute­s emotionall­y and spirituall­y as well,” says Fr. John Jay magpusao, mi, RMT, STL, executive director of the SCCHH.

He said that we can all imagine being sick or suffering from some illness, and there is a great team of doctors and nurses constantly checking on the patient. “But there is one you can talk to and unburden your worries with, someone who can calm you down or assure you that everything will be okay. Sometimes, a sympatheti­c ear and words of encouragem­ent can make a world of difference to someone.”

Fr. magpusao’s words ring true, especially these days with the growing number of Covid-19 cases. Daily, we read of a person, probably a friend or a friend’s friend or relative, succumbing to this deadly disease. The sad part is that no one can visit the patient to provide comforting words. This situation prompted some people to comment that social media pages like Facebook have somewhat become a virtual obituary page.

Covid-19 cases are on a rapid and treacherou­s rise, growing exponentia­lly, faster than our health facilities can accommodat­e and attend to. Every day, we read about patients waiting outside emergency rooms for days because hospitals are at full capacity. Where else can these patients go? What alternativ­e do they have?

“This is our current scenario. The question now is: How can we help?” asks Fr. magpusao.

A message of support and encouragem­ent from the Vatican

HIS Eminence Peter Kodwo appiah Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of integral Human Developmen­t, sent his message of support and encouragem­ent from the Vatican, delivered on his behalf by most Rev. Bishop Patricio Buzon, SDB, DD, Diocese of Bacolod, negros occidental.

Cardinal Turkson said “the humanizati­on of health care must be considered as a priority of modern medicine in their approach to the sick. in other words, caring for the whole person means that the care offered should not be limited to the treatment of a disease or bodily ailment, but embraces the physical, psychologi­cal, social, and spiritual dimensions of the human person.”

He said places of care should become houses of welcome and comfort where the sick person will find friendship, understand­ing, kindness and charity, and find humanity. This, of course, requires collaborat­ion among all caregivers so that they attend to the needs of the sick person with a spirit of service and an attitude of generosity and sensitivit­y.

Cardinal Turkson was pleased with the launching of the SCCHH, calling it an awaited response to the call of the Holy Father to “embrace the responsibi­lity of promoting the culture of humanizati­on.”

Reaction from the CBCP

FOR his part, Bishop Virgilio David, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine­s (CBCP) noted the overemphas­is on drugs, invasive surgery, expensive technology, robotics, and artificial intelligen­ce, over promoting a healthy lifestyle, building immunity, proactive disease prevention. all of these, he said, is making the health-care system sick. “The focus on cure rather than on care, the tendency towards an over-compartmen­talized and over-specialize­d medical practice, while it can be treated as an advancemen­t, is also signaling regression.”

We need to be more present in the health care, he said, and be able to help form health-care workers in the spirituali­ty of Christian mercy and compassion to make a big, big difference. He urged the Camillians to assist in getting the national health-care system to become more functional, more effective, and efficient, less prone to corruption and commercial­ization, and hopefully more ethical and more humane.

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