Faith in action for June 14

Avera Spiritual Care Department, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center

Palliative Care mission at Avera

In the time of Jesus, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for its danger and difficulty and was known as the “Way of Blood” because “of the blood which was often shed there by the murderous robbers.” It’s a winding and meandering road, which was really conducive to ambushing. It’s also a lonely road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.”

Similarly, the road of our life’s journey toward eternity can become a winding and meandering road. We can become ambushed by a painful, terminal or advanced illness that can rob us of our time and talents and take away our physical, emotional and spiritual strength.

Thus, in accordance with the Gospel healing mission of Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center offers palliative care services. Avera Marshall’s interdisciplinary palliative care team includes a certified palliative care physician, registered nurse, certified nurse practitioner, certified social worker and staff chaplain. The team works together with the patient and his/her family as they address the total suffering of body, mind and spirit of the patient. They work with patients to treat physical symptoms such as pain, nausea and breathlessness, which often also affects a person both emotionally and spiritually.

Like, the Good Samaritan who treated his wounded neighbor with total compassionate care of his body, mind and spirit, the palliative care team seeks to meet and provide comfort for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients. These concerns are not only physical pains but fears about the future, loss of independence, worries about their family and feeling like a burden.

We have come to learn that many patients want to discuss their psychological or spiritual concerns. They want to talk about the reasons for their disease or terminal illness to the members of an interdisciplinary team that can play a role in supporting the patient and family to cope holistically with pain symptoms of body, mind and spirit, rather than depending on the medical/pharmacological treatments alone.

Much like the Good Samaritan’s compassionate care of his wounded neighbor, within the ministry of palliative care we seek to provide conscious compassion of the “whole person” – our neighbor’s body, mind and spirit. Our medical ministry consists of a combination of empathy and medical knowledge and interventions. Our common goal is the well-being of our patient. For us, this means the healing of her/his life – not just the body but also the promotion of inner happiness and reduction of human suffering.

Do you remember the end of this parable? “He (the Good Samaritan) said, ‘Take care of him'” (Luke 10:35) With this Gospel mission imperative, and as members of the palliative care team at Avera, it is our prayerful desire for all our wounded sisters and brothers within our Marshall community and surrounding area “to be well,” or in Latin “Avera,” on the road of life’s journey.