The Difference with Catholic Health Care
For many of us, September conjures up both good and bad memories of going back to school! The start of the school year brings the opportunity to learn new things and review what may have slipped our minds over the summer.
In this spirit, I take the opportunity to remind myself, Catholic Medical Center (CMC) employees, as well as all of you, of what Catholic health care is all about.
If there were a textbook for Catholic health care, it would be the ERDs — the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. The ERDs are promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and lay out a clear vision of what Catholic health care should and must be.
It starts with these inspirational and motivating words, “The mystery of Christ casts light on every facet of Catholic health care: to see Christian love as the animating principle of health care; to see healing and compassion as a continuation of Christ’s mission; to see suffering as a participation in the redemptive power of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, and to see death, transformed by the resurrection, as an opportunity for a final act of communion with Christ.”
Some may find this charge daunting. Yet CMC and its predecessors, Notre Dame and Sacred Heart hospitals, have been carrying out Christ’s healing ministry for over 130 years.
It is truly a blessing to witness our dedicated physicians, nurses and employees compassionately serving our patients and bringing Christ’s healing and hope. The care they provide resonates, as I receive countless letters and notes thanking CMC employees for their dedication, skill and empathy.
Out of the 77 directives, ERD No. 3 stands out and challenges CMC as a Catholic hospital to live our mission, every day. “In accord with its mission, Catholic health care should distinguish itself by service to and advocacy for those people whose social conditions puts them at the margins of our society and makes them particularly vulnerable to discrimination…the uninsured and underinsured; children and the unborn, racial minorities, immigrants and refugees.”
Indeed, this is at the very core of our existence. Sacred Heart and Notre Dame hospitals were created to serve the immigrant population working in the Amoskeag Textile mills in the 1800s.
Our dedication to service lives on today in such programs as the Health Care for the Homeless Team, Poisson Dental Clinic, Pregnancy Care Center and Women’s Wellness and Fertility Center. We continue to serve those who are marginalized and may not feel like they have a voice, bringing Christ’s compassionate love and care to them!
I recognize we are not perfect, but we strive every day to be a shining light of Christ’s healing and hope, and plan to be that light for decades to come. We are proud to bring Catholic health care to New Hampshire’s residents.
Alex Walker is president and CEO of CMC Healthcare System: Catholic Medical Center, New England Heart & Vascular Institute, and several subsidiaries. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Manchester.