Are we really saving lives if we don’t heal the whole person?
While medicine proclaims many advances in conquering disease, the reality of our failing approach to health care stands behind the smoke and mirrors of technology and public relations strategies.
Though we “save” lives with acute interventions, we are faced with long term failures despite short term gains. These acute interventions bring patients back from dire circumstances only to see them suffer over the longer term with recurrences of the same or chronic consequences of poor health.
Though we treat a disease properly, we often miss the person with the disease and thus completely overlook non-biological factors of their disease. When the emotional, social, and relational factors which contribute to the person’s being are ignored, fuller and longer term healing cannot occur. Though we offer much to those who have resources, our endless number of systems fail in caring for the least of society. Despite countless programs and bulging budgets, many go without care and receive inadequate care. Though the experts pontificate on guaranteed strategies to reach all with care, our naivete produces far fewer achievements.
Our approach is inadequate.
We have lost the art of communication. Rather than delve into the life factors contributing to disease, we hide behind technology and a façade of superior knowledge. This prevents not only the patient and their family from participating fully in recovery but also prevents the community from involvement in solving their own health crises. Ultimately we focus on disease rather than health. We provide “sickness care” rather than health care.
Our understanding is inadequate.
We approach health care as a right that someone must provide than a responsibility to which we must contribute. This has contributed to a paternalistic approach to patient care. Although the public movement is one towards “patient centered care”, the underlying there is still one in which the experts know what is best for the patient to receive this “patient centered care”. When we recognized health as how we ourselves live rather than what doctors and hospitals provide to us, we can learn to take the initiative. This must include an end to the false notion that healing only requires physical resolution to disease. Health requires wholeness of mind and spirit as well as the body.
Obviously a new orientation is needed.
Both the medical profession and the community must make this perspectival change. We must move from a preoccupation with disease to an orientation towards health. We must move outside the institutional approach and work in the community. We must put “professional paternalism” behind us. We who are the professionals must take a long, honest look at ourselves regarding how we approach health problems. Then we must look at those we serve so that we might work with them in more fruitful ways.