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Healing Hospitals: A Paradigm

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Healing hospitals are hospitals that go beyond the original design and include in their paradigm three key components (Eberst, 2008 p. 77). The components needed are; a healing physical environment, the integration of work design and technology and a culture of radical loving care. Spirituality can be defined as a sensitivity or attachment to a religious belief, or other values that help that person gain insight, self-knowledge and a heightened understanding of life (Nash et al 2009). A healing hospital incorporates these components into their philosophy and by doing this a healing hospital focuses on the physical healing along with the spiritual beliefs and healing of their patient. The healing environment provides care for the body, mind and spirit. The word “healing” means “to make whole” (Webster’s Dictionary). It is important to remember that healing is not the same as curing. To cure is to eradicate disease, fixing problems and decreasing symptoms. To heal is to make whole. We can have a healing without a cure and we can have a cure without healing.

The healing hospital environment is designed to incorporate the healing of the entire individual; they do this by focusing on the three components that were mentioned earlier. The first component of a healing hospital is a healing psychical environment. This can be achieved by having the right culture in place. The health care professionals need to have the core beliefs of compassion and to be able to recognize and then take action towards meeting their patient’s spiritual and emotional needs. The setting needs to be quiet, so as to reduce the stress and anxiety that is common among the sick. The quiet environment is also important to promote sleep. When a person is sick, rest and sleep are very important in the healing process. Having quiet and mostly noise free environment not only promotes healing, but can lessen distractions on the health care providers; which in turn can reduce errors (Eberst, 2008 p 78). The second component for a healing hospital is the integration of work design and technology.

Taking a closer look at this component, you can see that this can help staff work efficiently and provide the technology to promote healing. Looking at the design of Mercy Gilbert, a healing hospital in Arizona, you can see their design allows additional privacy to their patients. One design this hospital incorporated was to have separate elevators, which are located in the back. This allows staff to transfer patients from different areas of the hospital without the additional worry they will run into a neighbor some other acquaintances (Eberst, 2008 p 78). Mercy Gilbert hospital also has the best, up to date technology available. This can expedite test results, which in turn expedites treatments. The third component of a healing hospital can be considered the most important; the culture of Radical Loving Care. This component is based on the philosophy championed by Erie Chapman. According to Mr. Chapman’s Bio (n.d) Mr. Chapman is the founder of the international Radical Loving Care movement, and he also led the establishment of the first Healing Hospital (n.d).

The hospital itself must incorporate the culture of compassionate care. If the health care workers are not committed to this philosophy, then it will not be a healing hospital; but a hospital with pretty rooms. At Mercy Gilbert, they promote a strong culture of compassionate care. This takes all their workers back to their roots and reminds them why they got into health care in the beginning (Eberst, 2008 p. 79). They promote the healing of their patients through a holistic approach. This approach not only meets the patient’s physical needs, but their spiritual and emotional needs. There are many challenges that healing hospitals can face, one of the challenges is changing the way the medical profession views spirituality. For years the medical profession was trained not to discuss religion or spirituality with their patients, as it was thought to foster delusions (Ashcraft, Anthony, &Mancuso, 2010). Any publically funded facility still needs to be careful on not promoting one religion over another, so as not to offend people.

There are many cynics that still feel that religion and spirituality need to be separate from business, and health care is a business in the end. There are misconceptions about spirituality as some view it as an organized religion, and still have a difficult time separating the two. Another challenge that faces spirituality in healthcare is the workers. Some healthcare workers may find it difficult to support a view that is different than their own. There may also be some feelings of angst when it comes to their own spirituality. To help with these misconceptions, it is important to focus on the meaning of spirituality, instead of the religion that is most commonly associated with spiritualism. The Bible talks about healing and spirituality and one story that speaks to me is the story about the Good Samaritan in Jerusalem. The story goes that a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and was beaten and left for dead. A Good Samaritan arrived and had compassion for the fallen man. The Good Samaritan bandaged his wounds, put him on his beast and brought him to an Inn.

When the Good Samaritan left, he told the Inn keeper to take care of the wounded man and he would repay him when he returns. The Good Samaritan showed Radical Loving Care, he had compassion for the wounded man and he placed the stranger’s needs above his own. The story also speaks of taking the wounded to an Inn, a place with warmth and shelter. This created a healing environment. (King James Bible). Hospitals need to return to the fundamentals of health care, the compassion for the sick. A hospital must incorporate the design of the healing hospital, to help foster the spiritual healing along with the physical healing, incorporating the technology that is needed. This is how we can follow the teachings of the Good Samaritan, putting the needs of others before our own; and this applies to the business side of the hospital.

Ashcraft, L., Anthony, W., & Mancuso, L. (2010, June 30). Is spirituality essential for recovery? in Behavioral Healthcare. Retrieved November 9, 2014.

Bio. (n.d.). In Erie Chapman. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
Eberst, L. (2008, April). Arizona Medical Center Shows How to Be a “Healing Hospital”. Health Progress, 89(2), 77-79.
Nash, D., & Yuen, E. (2009, June 16). The Role of Spirituality in Healthcare. In webpagetoday.com. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
(n.d.). In Websters Dictionary. Retrieved November 9, 2014.

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