Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln will host its 2014 Spirit of Care Conference April 11. This year’s theme is, “Divine Mercy: A Catholic Spiritual Gift We Receive and Give as Health Care Professionals.”
The day will begin with Mass celebrated by Bishop James D. Conley in the hospital chapel. After breakfast, the morning session will introduce people of all faiths to the concept of the Divine Mercy.
The afternoon session will include a panel of healthcare professionals and lay persons with “front line” experience in ministering to those who have experienced pain and suffering such as a miscarriage, traumatic injuries, or death from cancer.
The workshop will close with participants gathering to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
All health care professionals, including those who do not work for Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, are invited to attend the day-long workshop, which amounts to 6.0 contact hours for nurses and 6.0 continuing education hours for pharmacists. The cost is only $10, which includes breakfast and lunch.
This is the eighth year the medical center’s mission committee has hosted a Spirit of Care Conference. It is an opportunity for the medical center’s 2000-plus employees and others from the community to develop spiritual and emotional dimensions of the care they provide.
“We want to introduce the spiritual component to the nurses and doctors,” explained Father Janusz Marzynski, one of the hospital’s chaplains.
He said that it’s important for health care professions to know a bit about pastoral care, just like it’s important for staffers in the pastoral care department to know a bit about medicine. This way, he said, everybody at Saint Elizabeth’s can assist in whatever needs they spot in a patient.
From a nursing perspective, registered nurse and mission committee member Julie Warrington noted, “When a nurse is very strong in her faith and spirituality, they can help a patient much better. They know what to ask for; they know what to look for.”
Plus, there is a personal benefit for those who attend the seminar.
“I think most important is they will grow themselves,” Father Marzynski said. “They will grow spiritually in their relationship with God, so they can become a spiritual channel for the patients.”
This year’s theme, the Divine Mercy, is particularly meaningful in a hospital that sees all stages of life, from early pregnancy to death.
“Divine Mercy is so close to what happens when we are suffering and when we’re close to death,” said Warrington.
During the workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to explore Jesus’ messages of Divine Mercy and to learn about St. Faustina Kowalska, to whom God revealed the devotion.
They will also discover how to incorporate mercy into their everyday activities, helping patients heal physically as well as spiritually.
To that end the mission committee hired Jim Miller, host of Moments of Mercy, a Catholic radio broadcast.
“He’s got a wide breadth of experience, and he’s very entertaining,” said Paul Edwards, a research coordinator who serves on the mission committee. “It’s going to be a very exciting day.”
Miller dedicated himself to teaching the Message of Divine Mercy in 1993. Since then, he has traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, giving presentations on the Divine Mercy through dynamic storytelling and true-life experiences.
Divine Mercy, said Father Marzynski, “is the greatest attribute of God… Everything we have is thanks to God’s mercy.”
He continued, “We all want to grow in love…. We want to grow in love to be better instruments of God, to allow God to heal the patients. That will work better when we are united with God, because we will be more receptive to the wisdom from God, more open to God’s inspiration.”
Edwards said incorporating the Divine Mercy in to everyday care could have a significant impact on patient care.
“Being able to demonstrate acts of mercy, acts of kindness, showing that unconditional love at a time when somebody is feeling uncertain or scared can really help in their ultimate recovery,” he stated.
Edwards also pointed out that the Divine Mercy is well rooted in Catholic tradition, but the message is for the whole world.
“We hope to expose as many people on our staff to Divine Mercy, and if they can take a piece of it into their lives, to their families, that’s great. If they will practice it here, that’s excellent,” he said.
He concluded, “We’ve got excellent medical care. We’ve got the top technology. We have great doctors, excellent nurses… Being able to demonstrate and show mercy while combining that with excellent healthcare treats the person holistically.”
Space is limited. To register before the April 4 deadline, visit SaintElizabethOnline.com, click on “Medical Professionals” and select “Continuing Nursing Education.” Or call 402-219-7000.