(by Sister Valerie Sweeney, SND, Director of Mission and Ministry at Jennings)—You may know that Jennings is a Catholic organization, which is the foundation of our identity and mission. You may not be familiar with the document that helps to define and safeguard our Catholic mission.“The Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services” (ERDs) was written by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Its purpose is to affirm the ethical standards that flow from the Catholic Church’s teaching about human dignity. The ERDs also provide guidance on some specific moral issues facing Catholic health care. They provide patients, families, and caregivers with principles and guides for making decisions.
The ERDs have six main sections. In this article we will look at four of them that apply to our ministry at Jennings. (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 5)
Part 1: The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services
Catholic health care is guided by the following principles:
- to promote human dignity
- to care for the poor
- to contribute to the common good
- to be responsible stewards of resources
- to act in communion with the Catholic Church.
Part 2: The pastoral and spiritual responsibilities of Catholic Health Care
Catholic health care has the responsibility to treat those in need in a way that respects the human dignity and eternal destiny of all. Care is not limited to the physical; it also embraces the psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of the person. Thus pastoral care is an integral part of Catholic health care.
Part 3: The caregiver/patient relationship
Mutual respect, trust, honesty, and confidentiality mark this relationship. The personal nature of care must not be lost even when a team of caregivers is involved in care. The dignity of the person is respected regardless of health problem or social status, (e.g., race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, handicap, or source of payment).
Part 5: Issues in the care of the dying
Catholic health care faces death with the confidence of faith; it witnesses to the belief that God has created each person for eternal life. Effective pain management is critical in the appropriate care of the dying.
Catholic health care avoids the use of futile or burdensome technology that offers no reasonable benefit to the patient. Euthanasia and physician-assisted dying are not permitted. The use of medical technologies is judged in light of the Christian meaning of life, suffering, and death.
As a Catholic organization, Jennings takes pride in staying true to the teachings of the Church as we serve God’s people of all faith traditions and circumstances.