Yes Carl, this is a great vision/mission. One to be adopted by all who provide health care.
There are many stories about how I have worked relationally with people to bring care and healing. One in particular stands out. A nurse called me to see one of her patients (72 yo f). She told me the patient was admitted with abdominal pain the day before and was waiting for CAT scan and test results. She thought the patient was “depressed”, saying she was lying in bed in a fetal position with a sheet pulled over her head most of the morning.
I knocked and entered the room and found the patient as the nurse described. When I introduced myself she pulled the sheet tighter around her, but did not respond. I told her that her nurse told me she might benefit from a visit – still not response. Respecting her privacy, I asked her if I could sit with her for a while – not response. I sat in the chair next to the bed. After about ten minutes she pulled the sheet from over her head. I acknowledge her. She asked what church I was from. I told her that I was with the hospital and did my work here. Conversation followed.
She eventually shared her story which included the loss of her husband of forty eight years and two longtime friends in the last three years, the most recent being two weeks prior to her hospitalization. Many tears were shed. She said there was nobody left for her. She was alone.
I acknowledged her feelings and how difficult and sad the losses were for her and the loneliness she felt because those who had always been there for her were gone. I asked her if there was anyone else who helped her during this time. the couple had no children and did not belong to a faith community. She said a couple of her neighbors had checked on her and brought her food and that one had brought her to the hospital and even called her to check on her. We talked about other people who were there for her and she realized that she was not alone. She started sharing stories about her husband and friends and eventually her tears were turned into laughter. I was present with her and listened for almost two hours.
The next day I went to see her and one of her neighbors was with her. She had a restful night’s sleep – her abdominal pain was gone – the tests and CAT scan showed nothing abnormal. She was being discharged and the neighbor was there to take her home.
I believe this is an example of what spiritual care is and I have shared it with nursing students during a spiritual care presentation.