Religion has traditionally played a significant role in the development of healthcare institutions, but their current relationships are a subject of many controversies. With three-quarters of adults in the United States being religious, the scientific community has been struggling to incorporate the population’s religious preferences into the traditionally scientific medical field (Levin, 2016). Faith-based healthcare organizations that aim to deliver high-quality care while also catering for an individual’s spiritual health are effective in satisfying the needs of deeply religious people and under-served groups of society.
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Faith-Based Healthcare Organizations
Most faith-based healthcare organizations have started as small local missions aimed to ensure greater access to health resources for particular groups within the community. Today, most of them are included in large networks, such as the Catholic Health Association, or the Catholic Health Initiatives, that are among the largest healthcare providers in the United States. Most of them use faith as their core driver, and the values of sacred calling and meaning in the work are made explicit in the organizational and collaborative environment (Public health and faith community partnerships, 2014). Health professionals employed in faith-based organizations generally share their religious beliefs and make their mission visible in their everyday practice.
Centura Health is Colorado’s largest health care network comprising 17 hospitals and over 250 health facilities across Colorado and western Kansas and providing healthcare services to more than half a million people each year. It is a part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national non-profit, faith-based healthcare system formed in 1996 (Centura Health company overview, 2020). Centura Health delivers high-quality services and has received numerous awards and honors for care throughout the years.
In its practice, Centura Health aims to combine high-quality healthcare practices with the services that meet the unique spiritual and emotional needs of each patient. Its mission is “to extend the healing ministry of Christ by caring for those who are ill and by nurturing the health of the people in our communities” (Centura Health company overview, 2020). The organization describes itself as “celebrating the value of every person’s life and seeking to combine medical expertise with a compassionate touch to holistically care for a person’s body, mind, and spirit” (Centura Health company overview, 2020). Its core values include compassion, respect, integrity, spirituality, stewardship, imagination, and excellence. It should be noted that they are more in line with biblical values than with the traditional principles of healthcare ethics.
Mercy Health is a non-profit Catholic healthcare organization located in the Midwestern United States with headquarters in Missouri. It was founded in 1871 and is now the fifth largest Catholic healthcare system in the country with 45 acute care and specialty hospitals and around 44,000 employees (About Mercy, n.d.). Mercy has ministries and hospitals in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas, and its distant healthcare program serves providers and patients throughout the country.
Mercy focuses on providing health, spiritual, and emotional care to poor and under-served patients. It defines its mission as “extending the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bringing good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved” (Our mission, our vision, our values, n.d.). Its values include human dignity, integrity, compassion, stewardship, and service, which are also in line with biblical principles. One of the key elements of its practice is the provision of spiritual care, which includes general spiritual and emotional care, sacramental ministries, spiritual assistance in emergency situations, and support in ethical decision making (Spiritual care at Mercy Health, n.d.). Mercy Health mission programs focus on infant mortality, substance abuse, healthy living and easting, cancer, and grieving.
Compared to faith-based organizations, secular hospitals offer a more straightforward approach to healthcare. UCSF Health, which is ranked among the top 10 hospitals in the United States, identifies its mission as “Caring, Healing, Teaching, and Discovering” (Our Mission, n.d.). Its goal is to be the best provider of healthcare services, the best place to work at, and the best environment for teaching and research (Our Mission, n.d.). Its values are not formulated as biblical principles and include professionalism, respect, integrity, diversity, and excellence. However, UCSF commits to treating all patients regardless of their race, religion, national origin, citizenship, or other characteristics, and vigorously enforcing nondiscrimination and privacy policies (Our Mission, n.d.). It can be concluded that on the mission level the hospital does not include spiritual values in their practice, but they are nevertheless observed by adherence to medical ethics principles.
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Faith-based healthcare organizations are distinguished by the implementation of a collaborative approach to healthcare, which involves medical as well as spiritual practices. They include biblical principles in their mission statements and commit to them in their everyday work by providing spiritual assistance to patients and employing people who share their beliefs. Secular organizations offer a more scientific and straightforward approach to healthcare, focusing on research, technology, and high quality of service without paying particular attention to patients’ religious needs (Levin, 2016). Both types of facilities aim to deliver quality care, with faith-based organizations providing a more comprehensive range of options for people who recognize spiritual health as a part of general healthcare.
About Mercy. (n.d.). Mercy Health. Web.
Centura Health company overview. (2020). Centura Health. Web.
Levin, J. (2016). Partnerships between the faith-based and medical sectors: Implications for preventive medicine and public health. Preventive Medicine Reports, 344–350. Web.
Our mission. (n.d.). UCSF Health. Web.
Our mission, our vision, our values. (n.d.). Mercy Health. Web.
Public health and faith community partnerships. (2014). Emory University. Web.
Spiritual care at Mercy Health. (n.d.). Mercy Health. Web.