Nov. 5, 2003 – Spiritual healing and medicine are subjects not often addressed together, but clergy, physicians and nurses came together at Roy L. Schneider Hospital on Wednesday to discuss the therapeutic benefits to patients of both.
The occasion was one of five seminars being offered this week at the 10th annual Bio-Medical Ethics Workshop presented by the Bio-Medical Ethics and Pastoral Care Committee of the St. Thomas/St. John Hospital Governing Board.
"Healing is definitely not just a physical thing," workshop participant Whitbourney Hutchinson, bishop of the Church of God of Prophecy, said. "People need to be aware of the holistic-ness of healing."
"You say that accidents, injuries and disease kill man, but this is not true," speaker Patricia Cummins said. Quoting from the Christian Science book "Science and Health," she continued: "The life of man is mind. The material body manifests only what mortal mind believes, whether it be broken bone, disease or sin."
The title of the workshop was "Beyond Pain: Spirituality and Healing." Cummins, representing the V.I. Christian Science Committee on Publication, said that some of the benefits of spiritual beliefs and practices are that they:
– Reduce fear and anxiety.
– Give comfort and reassurance to patients, families, friends and caregivers.
– Promote better health outcomes.
– Foster feelings of hope.
– Regenerate and turn life around.
– Are cost effective.
Christian Science is a prayer-based program with no religious affiliation, Cummins said. It encourages patients to "think of health as normal and natural," instead of making illness an important part of life, and keeps patients from claiming the illness as their own, she said.
Patients who practice spiritual healing are not prohibited from going to the hospital, she said, but "they choose prayer with healing, rather than using contemporary medicine."
A number of the seminar participants commended Cummins for having put together reading materials from The Sentinel and Christian Science Journal and statistics that support using prayer to heal.
One participant asked about ways for nurses to employ spiritual healing practices. "If a patient requests it, you can give them the prayer and the hope they need," Cummins responded. And if a patient does not request it, the caregiver can offer up a silent "Our Father" to assist with the healing process, she added.
Ohelia Ellison, a registered traveling nurse who works in the hospital's hemodialysis laboratory, said she attended the seminar to learn how to help her patients with healing and to make them "aware that God can help them."
Ellison admitted to feeling "uncomfortable talking to people about spirituality," but said she hoped the seminar would help her feel more at ease doing so.
Wednesday morning's presentation was the third of five being offered this week at Schneider Hospital. Monday's presentation was a Clergy Enrichment Seminar. On Tuesday, Dr. Francesco Isolani, the hospital's chief of anesthesiology, led a discussion on pain management.
On Thursday, attorney Harris Angel is leading a presentation on the "Legal Rights of Patients to Refuse Medical Treatment." And on Friday, attorney Francis Jackson will speak on the "Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct."
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