7/11/12 | 613 views
Catholic Health Care Leaders Urged to Work Together to Thrive
Anticipation of the Supreme Court’s June 28 decision on President Obama’s health-care reform law dominated a forum of Catholic health care providers from religious congregations that was coincidentally held that same morning in Manhattan.
“I think we’re all a little nervous about the decision coming up,” said Cardinal Dolan, welcoming the group at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center in Manhattan about an hour before the 5-4 decision upholding the law was announced.
“And it’s kind of exemplary of one of the major challenges you all face—the lack of certitude, the lack of clarity of the whole health care enterprise in the entire nation,” he said.
The cardinal encouraged the group, whose members run nursing homes, home health agencies and specialty hospitals in the archdiocese, to continue the collaborative efforts they’ve undertaken in the last few years.
He also praised the work of the women religious in health care.
“They’ve got their ear to the ground…they know what they’re doing, they know what the needs of God’s people are,” he said.
“And right now, they’re saying ‘We may have been able to do it separately in the past, but right now we’ve got to be collegial, we’ve got to be collaborative.”
The forum, which included briefings on upcoming issues in federal and state health care policy—regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision— was sponsored by ArchCare, the archdiocesan network of nursing homes and continuing and specialty care programs, and by the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm and Cabrini Eldercare.
Introducing the cardinal, ArchCare president Scott La Rue said, “This is quite a momentous day.”
He called it “D-Day,” first, because Cardinal Dolan was coming “to support our group…and, of course, it’s decision day for the Supreme Court.”
Regardless of the court’s action, La Rue said, “Health care reform is here to stay, and the only way we can go through it is to go through it together.”
Cardinal Dolan, in his remarks, praised the work of the religious congregations in health care ministry, saying that if he were asked to show someone where the work of Jesus is most vibrant and most evident in the archdiocese, he would not hesitate to bring that person “to our vast health care network.”
“And you’re the leaders of that,” he told the group, “and the saving, healing, consoling work of Jesus Christ…continues through your work. What an inspiration.”
He summarized their work by answering four questions: What do we do? Why do we do it? How do we do it? In whose name do we do it?
To the first question, he said, “We take care of people who are sick, who are fragile, who are forgotten. That’s what we do.”
“We do it,” he said, answering the second question, “because we’re believers. We believe that God has created people in his own image and likeness…(therefore) every human person deserves dignity, love and respect.”
Remarking on the question of “how do we do it,” the cardinal said, “We have to do it together.”
“We can do it a lot better if we do it together. If we keep in our own silos, our own little turfs, we’re probably all going to shrink, probably go out of existence…unless we share resources and share talents.”
The fourth question, he said, is probably the most important, in that the health-care ministries are carried out in the name of Jesus and in the spirit of his incarnation.
“We could see him, we could hear him, we could touch him,” the cardinal said.
He said health care, and other ministries that serve the vulnerable, is “incarnational.” It might be a parish, it might be a soup kitchen, it might be a shelter for homeless women, but they’re all “seeable, touchable” works.
Cardinal Dolan closed with a caution, saying those ministries are under threat, as they’re pressured to close, consolidate and merge.
“Some of that has to be done,” the cardinal said. “We know that. But there’s a temptation to just give up, and we can’t let that happen.”
“Part of the success of the Catholic Church, part of its genius, is that our people are able to touch the wounds of Christ. You do that every day,” the cardinal said.
He added, “We’ve got to make sure that that part of the Church is kept alive. We can’t allow the Church to become just cerebral, we can’t allow the Church to become just a nice idea. We’ve got to allow people to see it and hear it…and I think that vision might be a little clearer and a little stronger after a meeting like today.”
Among the congregations and agencies represented were Cabrini Eldercare, the Capuchin Province of the Stigmata of St. Francis, Carmel Richmond Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Dominican Family Health Services, Ferncliff Nursing Home, Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, Franciscan Sisters of Peace, Good Samaritan Home Care and Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Services.
Also, Little Sisters of the Poor of Jeanne Jugan Residence, Mary Manning Walsh Home, Maryknoll Sisters, Marymount Convent, Providence Rest, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne and Rosary Hill Home, Schervier Nursing Care Center, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of the Divine Compassion, Society of the Holy Child Jesus, St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, St. Patrick’s Home, St. Teresa’s Nursing Home, St. Vincent DePaul Nursing Home, Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, Archcare and Avila Institute.
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