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

Upcoming Event – Grace Prescriptions

save the date website version

As a Christian medical professional, treading the waters where faith and medicine intersect can seem murky with the feeling of being ill-equipped to approach the topic of faith with patients.  Yet it is this patient–provider relationship that provides such rich ground to plant seeds of spiritual hope in patients as they face their hours of deepest hurt and fear.

On the weekend of February 6-7th, Siloam will host Grace Prescriptions – a conference designed specifically for Christian medical practitioners to become equipped to integrate their faith with their practice.  Formerly known as “The Saline Solution,” Grace Prescriptions is a training paradigm pioneered by the Christian Medical and Dental Association.  Written by Bill Peel and Dr. Walt Larimore, the curriculum is designed to explore the topic of spirituality in healthcare and equip those of us in the medical profession to integrate faith into our practice.

We invite you to come and be a part of this weekend of gathering with other Christian healthcare practitioners and their teams from around the Nashville region.  For more information, please visit our Events page as we announce further updates.

Registration opens October 6th.

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.”

wendellberrybyguymendes

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.

Children – Pulling at my Heart Strings

Guest blogger Chelsea Travis, one of seven students in this summer’s Community Health Immersion, writes…

My little neighbors are so full of life! The children of our neighborhood have taken a part of my heart. They bring me so much joy! They are always happy to see me and I, …I am truly happy to see them. I have gotten to know and befriend several of the kids. How sweet, thoughtful, sharing, and honest they are, and in such a ripe place of growing too. I know why Jesus loves the children! These encounters make me want to be a good role model for them and purposely teach them what is right, and to love God, themselves, and one another.

“I know why Jesus loves the children!”

I pray for these kids so much, especially those children for whom God has given me special discernment. Some of them I feel may be facing or have at some point in their lives faced neglect, trauma, or even abuse. These situations really do cause my heart pain. Just thinking of how ill things are shaping and affecting these young kids’ lives bothers me. Sometimes I especially hurt because I don’t know how to help them–particularly with their physical needs. At times, I feel this way because I look and think we barely have enough to take care of ourselves, yet I am determined to continue to pray earnestly for these kids and their families. This is especially important because we don’t know what things the rest of their families may be enduring –it could be anything from depression to abuse as well.

“Some…faced neglect, trauma, or even abuse.”

These kids, however, mostly just want to be around us and play games. Many of them have such big hearts. I proudly wear three colorfully beaded bracelets that were made by three of the girls here. One of them gave me a toy gift box filled with a card decorated with Minnie Mouse stickers, a purple hacky sack, and a hand full of different colored, plastic, jumping frogs. The families here are also very giving, as well. Often times, they welcome you into their homes offering a bottle of water or some juice–and this they give out of the little that they have. Our neighbors are so generous! I feel so blessed by this kindness. Lord, please help me to be able to come to a place where I can be even more generous out of a sincere heart and from Your Love.

“…they give out of the little that they have.”

I will truly miss these kids when it is time for us to leave. We have already had to experience a family moving away. Although they were moving on to better things it was still sad. Even though I will miss these kiddies dearly, I hope that I can leave them with memories and Someone who will be with them always as they continue on their life journeys.

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’” (Acts 3:6 NKJV)

Highlands Kids 1 (Chelsea Travis blog)

Reinie Thomas, a pre-medical student at Hope College in Michigan and CHI participant, enjoys laughter and games with kids in the neighborhood.

Highlands Kids 2 (Chelsea Travis blog)

Chelsea Travis, a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina pre-medical program, poses with neighbor children.

From Strangers to Neighbors

Guest blogger Reinie Thomas, one of seven students in this summer’s Community Health Immersion, writes…

Low-income neighborhood they told me. I thought we would rarely be outside in our neighborhood. How I was wrong. Within the first few days of arriving at the Highlands, I have interacted with some of the most generous, good-hearted people I have ever met.

Watching out for suspicious people that hang around our apartment was implied, but once again that was not the case. Every single time I walk back to my room, an old Nepali couple is sitting outside the entrance to our flat.

“…we meet our hands together and bow in return with a ‘Namaste,’…” 

We all know the male Nepali around here for wearing an orange t-shirt and hat. What it signifies, I’ll probably never know. He greets us first the American way with a handshake, then we meet our hands together and bow in return with a ‘Namaste,’ which is the appropriate greeting for those from Nepali. Even from two completely different cultures, we both try to relate with one another which is honestly such an amazing experience.

Reinie with two young friends

Reinie Thomas, a rising sophomore at Hope College, enjoys building relationships with two young neighbor friends.

We have found that many of our neighbors have children as well, and those children now know exactly where we live. Many Nepali, Burmese, Hispanic among other local children visit us daily so we can come play soccer with them, give them a glass of water, have them play with our hair, play on the playground or simply to talk.

Within a few days we built a genuine relationship through these activities. Soon, the children’s demand for us to play with them occurred during our (the CHI students) work, meal and nap times. In extreme cases, we began having to slowly close the glass door to our house with children grasping on to it, with their faces pressed against the glass and locking it so we could have a meal (we all felt so awful for doing this!).

One time, this led to a mini child-march outside the glass window by our table during dinner so that we would re-open the door and play with them. There were kids from ages 2 to 11, arms crossed, and one-by-one walking by the glass door with pouty faces. Once the children had gone back to their apartments and we had finished our meal, we found written on the sidewalk outside our door an “I love you Laurin” from one of the girls as a final plea for us to finish our meal and play.

This living environment originally had me worried, thinking that we would have to keep to ourselves most of the time, but as I have described, it’s the complete opposite. Very few things have made me feel unsafe in this community, rather, I feel comfortable and am eager to meet more people. It’s a great feeling when every time I walk through our neighborhood I know someone, child or adult, and am able to share a common greeting with them!

As a CHI team we each bring something different to the table when it comes to meeting new people, which I could not be more thankful for. As mentioned in Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

This has allowed me to meet many people that I would have never interacted with before solely due to the gifts of my team members. Through these first few weeks, it is evident that we are growing as individuals, a team and a community.

I am sure the best is yet to come.

Globe trotting by knocking next door

Guest blogger Frances Cobb, one of seven students in this summer’s Community Health Immersion, writes…

“How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you and your family eat a day?

What are the biggest problems for you and your family?

For your community?

Do you exercise?

Has anyone in your family been sick in the last year?

Do you know where to go for healthcare?

Do you and your family have health insurance? ….”

 

These are some of the questions we asked refugee families in our Community Health Surveys (CHS). This summer as part of Siloam’s Community Health Immersion, nine of us went door-to-door completing the CHS among refugee families in the Highlands and surrounding apartment communities. Door Knocking at the HighlandsThrough the CHS we sought to assess basic wellness and identify community-wide issues encountered by the refugees in understanding the American healthcare system and in transitioning to life here in the United States.

When I first heard we would be going door to door interviewing refugees, I think my blood pressure and anxiety shot up. It sounded like an awesome opportunity to interact with the refugees and assess their health across different nationalities within our new community here at the Highlands, however I was mildly terrified of knocking on the doors of strangers and inviting myself into their homes.

When we first set out, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but what I encountered behind each door we knocked on was a generous, resilient family working against language barriers, childcare issues, financial burdens, and general confusion in their transition to a new culture.

In that week and half, it was like we were traveling the globe. I spoke with Bhutanese, Burmese, Rwandan, and Ethiopian families within our community. No one refused to answer our questions and many people went so far as to thank us for taking time to listen to them and trying to understand the difficulties they have encountered in transitioning to life away from their home country.

I was so encouraged as a volunteer and future healthcare provider by the generous and helpful attitude of the refugee families I had the pleasure of meeting. By interacting with them in their homes and taking time to sit with them, we were able to gain a better understanding of the health environment experienced by both newly arrived and established refugee families.

Additionally we had the opportunity to observe the aspects of the American healthcare system that cause confusion among these families and ultimately act as barriers to staying healthy.

CHI participants Will Davies and Stewart Goodwin with shoes courteously removed interview Burmese neighbors about their health status.

CHI participants Will Davies and Stewart Goodwin with shoes courteously removed interview Burmese neighbors about their health status.

 

Shocking and inhuman…

As I reflect on the tremendous impact Martin Luther King, Jr., has had on our lives – how he helped release the poor and underprivileged from oppression and helped release the privileged and wealthy from the bondage of arrogance, I am reminded of Jesus’ own mission statement:

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4: 18-19

In health care for the underserved and despite the promises of the Affordable Care Act, the work before us is heavy.   *Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”

There remains a great deal of work to be done to release so many of our neighbors from the bondage of inadequate health care. At Siloam, we continue to explore how to care for our patients as whole persons… as part of a wholistic community.  We are guided by a faith in God that seeks to follow the guidance that Jesus gave us in Matthew 25: 40, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

*Spoken at a convention for the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966. Resource: Huffington Post