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.

Biopsychosocial… spiritual?

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

Several of my friends and family have been astounded that a place like Siloam exists, where the individuals who need it most not only receive excellent health care, but also are treated as whole people, like the beloved children of God that they are.Whole Person Care

Why is it so hard for us to think of care in these terms? After all, as Christians, we are called to care for and love the poor, plain and simple. This is certainly not to say that those not of a Judeo-Christian faith tradition can’t or don’t have a heart for the poor, but we have specific Biblical instructions and moreover the framework to do so.

“…we are trained…to compartmentalize our lives.”

I don’t think that the problem is necessarily that not enough health care providers are Christians, but rather that we are trained, in America in general but in medicine in particular, to compartmentalize our lives. Our work, family, and church are kept separate, and we are encouraged to leave all personal ideas, passions, and faiths at the door. How can we expect to help prepare individuals for their unique purpose as children of God’s kingdom if we don’t claim our place there as well?

I am grateful and blessed to be a part of the Community Health Immersion Program at Siloam this summer and to have the opportunity to shadow providers that bring their whole selves into a holistic model of healing. Patients not only have access to a Behavioral Health Consultant and to Pastor Doug, who make sure the patient’s social and spiritual needs are met, but they experience God’s love from the front door to the back.

I have witnessed providers over and over again spending a few extra moments to make certain that patients feel heard and that their unique experiences are validated. In return, the patients have a deeper trust in the medical expertise of the providers, and, sometimes, express a deeper hunger to know the Lord.

Roddy, Lauren - next to Compassion sign

Lauren Roddy is a rising senior at in the pre-medical program at Baylor University.

I challenge each of you to interact with others as whole people loving whole people. I pray that I can emulate what I’ve seen and learned so far in my future medical career, and I hope that everyone at Siloam knows that I want to be y’all when I grow up!

God with us…

An incarnate God is beyond my comprehension. Yet, that is who Jesus is…God with us, the Incarnate One…choosing to become human to suffer with us – a God of compassion.Jesus_in_Golgotha_by_Theophanes_the_Cretan 4-2014

As we move through the final days of Passion Week for the Christian community (Jesus’ final days that include his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection), I wanted to share another of Siloam’s core values that guides us as a ministry: Compassion.

Active, compassionate care means caring intentionally for the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.  The biblical concept of health—rooted in words like Shalom (Hebrew) or Sozo (Greek)—implies that man is a unified being, who is not so easily reduced to component parts as we might like.  In fact, both of these words can be interpreted to mean not only health, or well being, but also convey the concept of “salvation.”  Compassionate care for the whole person means seeking to alleviate suffering, and this may occur on many levels.  As we begin our relationships with our patients, we will seek to be genuine learners of their suffering.  This includes learning about their various social, religious and cultural backgrounds as we “incarnate” ourselves into their special contexts.  By building a base of mutual respect, we commit to explore issues beyond their presenting medical issue, asking permission as appropriate.  We do not condone forcing any beliefs on anyone—biomedical, Christian, or otherwise—but rather, from an early stage in our relationship with a patient and with the humility of Christ, will seek to discern where God is already at work in their life.  Compassionate care then means being prepared to help them take the next, appropriate step with God—or to refer them to someone who can.  In the meantime, compassionate care also means being willing to enter another’s suffering and share it with them when it can’t be alleviated.

The good news is that the incarnate God is still with us through the Holy Spirit…helping us to be compassion to the world!  Have a great weekend!

How Whole-Person Care Fosters Patient Engagement

Lauren Holmgren, former 4th year ETSU medical student who completed her rotation at our clinic in March 2014

Lauren Holmgren, former 4th year ETSU medical student who completed her rotation at our clinic in March 2014

Leaving Siloam yesterday was bittersweet.  Not only was I leaving a clinic I have come to love and people who had truly made me feel like part of the team, I was leaving behind my role as a medical student.  Yesterday was the completion of my very last clinical rotation of medical school.  I will never again walk into a patient room and introduce myself as “the medical student working with….”  Instead, the next time I walk into a patient room I will introduce myself as “Dr. Holmgren”.  As I reflect back on my time at Siloam, there is no doubt in my mind that as I transition to “Dr. Holmgren,” the way I practice will be shaped by the time I spent at Siloam.  I have, somewhat selfishly, spent a lot of time this month trying to figure out what it is that allows the patients and providers at Siloam to create such a nurturing and health promoting environment because it is exactly the type of relationship I hope to one day have in my practice.

The conclusion I have come to…. it’s a combination of a number of things.  First and foremost, the providers at Siloam are interested in the whole person rather than just the medical complaints of their patients—their dedication to providing care for all aspects of a patient’s life from their medical needs to their spiritual needs to their social needs.  This focus and dedication allows the providers to make the best recommendations for their patients but that alone is not enough to care well for their patients. The patients have to take an active role in their healthcare.  The care and dedication of the providers to take care of the whole person is something patients recognize and I think that greatly contributes to patients taking an active role in their own health, but Siloam also requires their patients to be responsible for their healthcare.  I see this as a critical part of the success Siloam sees.  Patients understand that the clinic is not going to ask them to contribute more than they can afford but at the same time, the patients understand that they have to be invested in their own care.
Additionally, the patients of Siloam are a wonderful group of people.  They have a wide variety of experiences that have shaped their lives but they are all grateful for what they have and the care they receive at Siloam.  All of these things together have made an exceptional place to learn and a great place for people to get exceptional care.  I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful clinic.

 

Guest blog post courtesy of Lauren Holmgren

Whole-person care…is GRRREAT !

Tony the Tiger recently sought care at Siloam.  Listed as “Tony Tiger” in our electronic health record, Vanderbilt Medical Student Enoch Sizto was given a patient’s perspective on the entire clinic process.  Preparing for his new patient appointment, Enoch remembered to bring his identification (see accompanying photo). Tony Tiger - Enoch Shizto 2-2014

We want our trainees to see that in our attempt to provide whole-person care we need a team committed to making that experience possible.  The best practice examples of whole-person care extend beyond what goes on in the exam room between the patient and the practitioner.  Every staff member plays a role in caring for the whole person…from taking a patient phone call, to check-in, to triage, to the lab, and eventually to check-out…how staff address and care for patients is critically important.

This is not merely a “good customer service” technique, although I certainly do not knock the need for customer service training.  Whole-person care starts with the heart of the individual providing the service.  They must know themselves to be deeply loved creations of God…and, be encouraged by team members and leadership…and, supported by organizational policies and procedures.

Some ways we carry this out at Siloam is hiring staff that understand deeply our mission and can abide by our core values.  It follows with daily moments of renewal of spirit in prayer huddles to seek God’s blessing upon the shift ahead of us.  It is supported by a weekly staff meeting that allows us to form community (team-building) and reflect upon our purpose and study the scriptures.

Making whole-person care “Grrreat!” is not a destination but a process.  We continue to learn as we go.  What systems, processes or people have you experienced that make whole-person care possible in your life?

Instruments of God’s Love

For Valentine’s Day, it seems appropriate to feature Siloam’s core value on Love.

“Sharing the love of Jesus is an intentional process which begins with the Siloam board and staff knowing and experiencing Christ’s love themselves.  As a medical center dedicated to sharing this love in a variety of ways, we have a constant need for the grace and truth of the gospel to overflow from our lives to others.  As God pours out this love through us, it is vitally important to attribute it to the original source–the sacrificing love of Jesus as God in the flesh, and not just the goodness of our own human hearts. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  (1 John 4:10, Bible).  Consider how Jesus approached the healing of the blind man at the pool of Siloam in John chapter 9.  The man was physically healed by the touch of Jesus, but Jesus did not stop there.  Jesus pursued the more complete healing of the man by revealing to the man who He really was—the Messiah. It is our hope that Siloam patients will, in due time, both experience God’s love through our care and grow to know the Great Physician who provides it!”

Click here to see all of Siloam’s core values.