Since a Catholic healthcare institution is a community of healing and compassion, the care offered is not limited to the treatment of a disease or bodily ailment but embraces the physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of the human person. – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services
Whether or not you follow the Catholic religious tradition, you can take comfort in knowing that as a Catholic-sponsored healthcare system, SCL Health cares for the whole person – body, mind and spirit. We also understand that it is vitally important to offer spiritual care services to our patients and their families, according to their personal preferences.
Our Catholic healthcare tradition began 150 years ago when the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth began providing healthcare services that honored the sacred dignity of life, and that tradition continues to this day. Catholic hospitals adhere to this fundamental belief: All life, from conception to the moment of natural death, is profoundly sacred and must be treated with awe, respect and dignity.
Ethical and religious directives
As a Catholic healthcare system, we operate according to The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, often called the ERDs or the Directives. This is the document that offers moral guidance on various aspects of healthcare delivery. The Directives can be found on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Catholic understanding of healthcare is rooted in the basic scriptural understanding that the healing mission of Jesus touched people at the deepest level of their existence, and he sought their physical, mental and spiritual healing. Throughout its history, the Catholic church has been dedicated to serving the sick and all those in need.
Five principles of social responsibility
The social responsibility of Catholic healthcare is guided by five essential principles:
- To promote and defend human dignity - The right to life of every human being means the right as well to adequate healthcare and must be basic to every Catholic institution involved in medical service and science.
- To care for the poor - No one can ever be turned away from a Catholic hospital because of an inability to pay. This attention to the poor, the underinsured and the uninsured must be paramount at a Catholic hospital.
- To contribute to the common good - Catholic healthcare services are meant for the entire community. These services should be instigators of social change that lead to a greater respect for fundamental human rights and for the economic, social, political and spiritual health of the entire community.
- To exercise responsible stewardship - As the bishops state, “Catholic healthcare ministry exercises responsible stewardship of available healthcare resources. A just healthcare system will be concerned both with promoting equity of care – to assure the right of each person to basic health care is respected – and with promoting the good health of all within the community.”
- Adherence to the moral teachings of the Church - In our society today, any Catholic healthcare service will be approached, or even pressured, to provide medical procedures that are contrary to Catholic teaching. But by refusing to provide or permit such medical procedures, Catholic healthcare affirms what defines it: a commitment to the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception until death.