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healing hospitals and spirituality

There is increased interest on healing hospitals, which typically deal with maintaining healthy environments and healing based on patient centered models which seek to meet spiritual, social and physical needs of patients.  Similarly, healing hospitals strive to serve the community at large encompassing the care givers, hospital management, hospitals buildings, surroundings and the patients. Consequently, the role of spirituality in a healing hospital arises because of the holistic approach of the healing hospital paradigm. In essence, the healing hospital approach is likely to lower the cost of health care, by specifically focusing on the needs of the patient and creates a better healing environment by reducing stressors in the hospital environment and not simply focusing on curing. This paper explores components that constitute healing hospitals, challenges towards achieving a better healing environment and biblical application to healing hospitals.

Dealing with spiritual matters extends from the patient centered approach of healthcare (Koenig, 2007). Registered nurses play a vital role in identifying the spiritual needs of patients, but spiritual matters are sensitive and health practitioners should tackle the issue with care. The main reason as to why spirituality need to be integrated in healing hospitals is that it facilitates coping mechanisms for patients. In hospital settings, patients could have little social support from their religious peers, and taking into account their religious beliefs would help to deal with isolation from their religious friends and relatives. Furthermore, spirituality is more likely to invoke positive emotions, because such patients are more likely view life as being purposeful.

Components of healing hospitals

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Showing love and care for the care givers is an integral part of success for the healing hospitals. According to Radical Loving Care (2009), the Mercy Gilbert Medical Center was the best example of this feature. The CEO of the hospital Laurie Eberst preferred workers who showed care and compassion as shown by having A Servants Heart. Thus, to Eberst, the attitude and character of the staff hired would make the hospital a better healing environment than simply focusing on magnificent buildings and designs. Even though, the hospital relies on medical proficiency, innovative technology and medical to enhance better health care provision, compassionate care for the patients, visitors and the community are still important aspect of the healing hospitals approach (Dignity Health, 2013).

The second component of a healing hospital is the healing environment which takes into account the physical surroundings in and around the hospital, and staff engagement with family members.  According to Eberst (2008) & Dignity Health (2013) creating an environment that encourages compassionate with appealing aesthetics has the potential to ease the healing process.  In other words, the environment should not be gloomy, but should instead lower the effects of stressors or if possible remove the stressors as this would enhance the coping mechanism for the patients.  Another aspect to the physical surrounding is the need for a quiet environment, which reduces distractions, feelings of anxiety and stressors (Eberst, 2008).

Another component of healing hospitals is use of technology and incorporation into the design of the hospital. Technology is important in enhancing efficiency, but the technology should also facilitate privacy for the patients as well as lessen distractions (Eberst, 2008). All the patients have their unique needs, and the design may accommodate these needs if some prefer music and entertainment.   Use of innovative technology increases efficiency of the hospitals as well as complement health care provision.  Thus, use of technology incorporated in a hospital’s design is critical for the success of healing hospitals as it facilitates a healing environment and reduces health care costs

Challenges of creating a healing environment

Despite best efforts towards creating a patient centered approach through healing hospitals, there are still challenges that make it difficult to achieve the set goals. The first challenge is the issue of red tapes among hospital officials and the hospital setting (Chapman, 2003). In carrying out their duties, care givers often encounter bureaucratic hurdles, which lower the efficiency of the hospital structure. In most cases, hospital staff is concerned with following down the rules and regulations of the hospital or other legislations, and in turn they may feel less obliged to show compassionate care for patients. Furthermore, in the face of spiraling health care costs, hospitals tend to focus on the cost implications of running hospitals as opposed to offering holistic health care plans.

Failed leadership presents a challenge to overhauling the health care system in embracing the concept of healing hospitals. The old mindset of master servant relations is impending adoption of healing hospitals, as leaders seem more dictatorial and averse to change. Leaders need not have titles for them to bring changes in the hospital setting, but they should have authority for hospitals to have little resistance to change. In other words, the leaders need to build trust and have a positive attitude towards cooperation unlike older leadership approaches that simply sought to give orders.  Effective leadership facilitates change management in hospitals for the betterment of patients, employees and the community.

Healing hospitals are a new concept in the health care sector, and is difficult to implement new changes. Thus, there is challenge for supporters of this approach because most hospital administrations have a clear command structure, but in the healing hospitals paradigm the organization less structured. For staff members earlier involved in the management of such hospitals, it may be difficult to interact with their fellow employees on a professional level. This is because the hierarchical nature of the hospital administration tends to be entrenched in the hospital settings. Similarly, change may also result to more conflicts in the early stages of overhauling the health care approach. According to Chapman (2003), many hospital leaders see themselves as bosses and not transformative leaders capable of ministering to caregivers, and would find in hard to cope under the healing hospitals approach.

Like businesses, hospitals also have the profit motive, with the number of patients being similar to increased market share for businesses (Chapman, 2003).  Thus, in embracing the concept of healing hospitals it is vital to point out that investment in technology does not only relate to improving health care provision ,but also to increase number of patients in the hospital and increase profits and funding. Even though, it may not be clearly stated, for hospital leaders increasing sales and the hospital’s market share is part of their agenda that is never openly discussed (Chapman, 2003). In some instances, charitable hospitals are in the business of making money with little emphasis on compassionate care to patients and more focus on technology based cures.

In the Bible, there are instances where there is compassionate love and care for people and even parables also have concepts applicable to healing hospitals. In Luke 8: 43-50 (New International Version) a woman who had a bleeding problem for twelve years was healed upon touching the cloak of Jesus cloth. Before this incident Jairus had requested Jesus to go and heal his daughter. However, when the sick woman touched the cloak of Jesus, he immediately felt power leave him in Luke 8:46. Jesus asked who had touched him, but the disciples did not have any clue. The woman later revealed herself to Jesus and the crowd, and Jesus proclaimed that her faith had healed her. Jesus showed compassion to this woman, and wanted all to see significance of faith he could have chosen to keep quiet if he wanted to and let the issue slip away.