Grace in the Exam Room

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Dabney’s voice sparkles as she tells the story.  It was the peak of the summer in 1967 as she hurriedly tried to mow the lawn before her son’s birthday.  A misstep quickly turned into a serious injury and she eventually found herself in the office of a foot surgeon in her small town in Florida.

There was plenty to preoccupy her thoughts as she went in for her first visit, but entering into the doors, she immediately felt something she had never felt before, it was the presence of complete peace. Not yet a Christian, she could only describe it as “the most wonderful thing I’ve ever felt…When I went in to see the doctor, I was so overwhelmed by what I was experiencing that I completely forgot about my foot.

When she arrived back at her house, she excitedly told her husband what she had experienced and that she couldn’t wait for her follow-up appointment to have her stitches removed.  Whatever it was that she was feeling she wanted to experience more.

Her foot eventually healed and the stitches removed, but her moments with this surgeon were etched in her mind in the years that followed as she wondered what she had experienced at this place.

It was 4 years later that Dabney Mann prayed a prayer of salvation and several years later before she discovered that the surgeon that she had been so impacted by was also a Christian.  But when she traces back the lines of her redemption story, this encounter signifies her first time connecting the idea of God with love through the care that the staff at this office embodied.

As a medical professional, you may never know the full impact that your encounter with a patient has on their life.   Our days fill with faces, names, ailments, and medical knowledge.  In the busyness and rushed pace of things, it can be easy to grow desensitized by the demands of time and the steady stream of diagnoses to give.  As a Christian in medicine, you can start to feel a disconnect between faith and your work in medicine.  Slowly the sense of calling that led you into your career can fade by the demands placed on your time.

It was this need that drew Dr. Walt Larimore and Bill Peel together to write a curriculum called “Grace Prescriptions” (formerly known as Saline Solution).  With a desire to partner their visions of faith/evangelism in the workplace and ministry in medicine, they have linked arms with CMDA by offering seminars and workshops for the Christian medical and dental community for the past several years.

As a faith-based non-profit clinic for the uninsured, Siloam Family Health Center is excited to host Grace Prescriptions for the greater Nashville community on the weekend of February 6-7, 2015.  Our hope is that you and members of your practice can come and be encouraged with ways to integrate your faith with your practice.

This seminar is designed to be a place for medical professions to gather and address the struggles they face and teach practical ways to bring grace into the exam room.  We want to see you equipped and encouraged to see medicine as more than a career but as part of your calling as a Christian engaging the world around you through medicine.

Paul writes in Colossians 4:6 to make the most of every opportunity, to “let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.”

dabney2There are patients just like Dabney that enter the halls of our practices who are eager to hear the Gospel.  For that surgeon, he may hardly have been aware at how deeply this lady with a stitched up foot was being impacted by the kindness that he and the members of his practice were offering to her – or how that experience with God’s love would one day take Dabney to over 16 different countries preaching the Gospel..

The grace that we show is like salt that brings flavor to the truth that people need as we become the visual aids of what God is like to those who may never step through church doors.  It’s this grace that fills your days with purpose as you’re made more aware of the heart of God in what you’re doing.

More information & registration for this event can be found here.  We hope you will mark your calendars for February 6 and 7th and prayerfully consider attending.  We’d love to see you there!

Lunch Discussions at Siloam

Whole-person care is a word that gets thrown around inside the walls of our clinic daily.  Inspired by the way that Jesus healed in the Gospels, we recognize that when a person is ill, more is ill than only the physical denominators of their health, but their feelings, emotions, heart and spirit also play a part.

Dan Fountain illustrated this brilliantly in an address he gave to the World Congress of the ICMDA in Durban in July 1998, drawing from a case study found in Mark 5: 25-34 – the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage.

Considered unclean by the social structure that surrounded her, her daily condition was one of abandonment, rejection, and despair.  Her life became defined by her illness and her hope for a cure had long been extinguished.  Yet hope was awakened the day that she heard stories about this man named Jesus and the accounts of the way He healed people.  With no other direction out, she knew that she needed to somehow encounter this man for her healing.

One day she hears that He’s passing through her town and she steps outside of the boundaries of what was allowed by her society.  She, unclean, reaches out as Jesus walks by and touches the hem of His garment, instantly healed.

Painting by Howard Lyon

Painting by Howard Lyon

Dan Fountain continues the narrative: “He [Jesus] knew she had been physically healed. We doctors are usually delighted when we have healed someone physically. Could Jesus not be content with that? No, because the woman herself had not been healed; her life had not yet been restored. Jesus wanted to heal her as a whole person, so he called her back to him. As she lay prostrate on the ground before Jesus, waiting to hear words of condemnation, she heard instead two absolutely incredible words [“My daughter…”], and these two words healed her.

… What heals the broken heart and the wounded spirit? What heals the heart is simply a word spoken to the depths of the spirit of the sick person. It is a word that is understood by the spirit of the person in such a way as to resolve the psycho-spiritual pathology – the fear, the conflicts, the anxiety, the guilt, the despair. When this word heals the inner pathology, the whole person can be healed.”

The question is: Is it possible for us to heal our patients in this way?  And if so, how?

Beginning November 18th, Siloam Family Health Center will be featuring a lunch discussion on whole-person care every 3rd Tuesday of the month.  All members of Siloam staff, volunteers, trainees and members of the Nashville medical community are welcome to attend.

An article will be selected that focuses on what it means to offer whole-person care with Dr. Morgan Wills facilitating a discussion around the topic presented.

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to me at Rachel.lantz@siloamhealth.org to receive the reading for the discussion and bring your lunch to join us while we discuss what it means to offer whole-person care.

This week we will be spending time discussing “The Healing Team” from Dan Fountain’s book God, Medicine, and Miracles.

If you would like to read the full length of his 1998 address, we encourage you to read the article here: http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=694

Medicine: Art or Science?

At our Spring 2014 Fundraising event, Siloam Family Health Center had the pleasure of featuring Wendell Berry speak on “The Health of a Community.”

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As a Kentucky farmer, poet, essayist, and novelist, Wendell Berry may seem like an unlikely voice to speak into the matters of health and the work of medicine, but when one leans in to hear him speak, there’s an uncanny sense of insight that unveils the shadows of our modernity and brings truths to light.  His perception introduces a new way of thinking about health, where the body is more than a sum of its parts, like a machine, where the work of medicine is something much more meaningful than the tinkering of that  “machine.”

His essay, “Health is Membership,” explores this idea even more as Wendell Berry wrestles between the art and science of healing.

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world.  I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.  I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.”

With this thought that “health is wholeness,” Wendell proposes the notion that the work of medicine comes from love and can no longer fit within the confines of standardized practice alone—that seeking efficiency within medicine is a deficit when it allies with the paradigm of human health as a science alone, that the work of medicine should come from a place of love if it’s goal is healing in the truest sense of the word.

Delivered as a speech at a conference in Louisville, Kentucky in October 17, 1994, we invite you to read the full essay here.

Engage or Run?

The Siloam Institute recently hosted an educational series taught by Dr. Morgan Wills as part of this summer’s Community Health Immersion program.  Titled the “Health Care ReFramed: Biblical Theology of Healthcare,” the aim of this series is to re-frame the work of medicine with a practiced, experiential Christian theology of health care.

Embracing Cross 1One of the articles featured during this series was a reflection written by a medical student, Dr. Brian Lindman, who completed a rotation with Siloam several years ago.  His experiences as a former Vanderbilt student and seminary graduate give him keen understanding and raw accounts about the care-giving choices—and spiritual opportunities faced by physicians in training.  Yet his reflection also gives insight into the choices we make as believers to engage or run as a practice in daily living.  An engagement that Lindman defines as “a deliberate and ongoing battle to swim against the stream of forces that carry us towards complacency, apathy, faithlessness and unbelief.”

It’s through his experiences with brokenness that Dr. Lindman poignantly realizes:  “I see that faith is indeed a fight and that I am ill-­‐equipped to fight the fight relying on my own resources. I need the Spirit of God to fill me if I am to fight faithfully, love as I am called to love, engage the brokenness of the world with hope, and walk the narrow road that leads to the life ‘that is truly life.’ ”

He currently serves as a cardiologist at Washington University and gave this as part of an address at the commission service for Christian medical students in 2002.

You can read the full article here.