Church teachings should inform the health care debate Sr. Geraldine Hoyler, general treasurer of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, said during Saint Mary’s College Theology on Fire series on Wednesday.
“Health care is a form of making God present in people’s lives,” Hoyler said. “When people are ill, they are vulnerable, and when people are vulnerable, it is much easier for them to meet God.”
Noting that health care providers should make Jesus known to their patients, Hoyer said, “You don’t just want to take care of a person’s broken leg, and not their broken heart.”
Hoyer said Catholicism has had a role in health care, reaching far back into history. She said monasteries provided health care long before hospitals were established. More recently, she added, teachers and sisters of the Holy Cross from Saint Mary’s College have volunteered as nurses in the Navy.
Linking healthcare to today, Hoyler said one in six people who enter a hospital are cared for in a Catholic hospital.
Hoyer narrowed today’s debate to a couple of topics —delivery and access to health care and who funds health insurance.
She said 47 to 50 million people in the United States do not have health insurance.
According to Hoyer, since many people don’t have access to preventative care, they do not go to the hospital until their conditions become critical. By then, she said, providing care will cost more than it would have if preventative options were available.
She said the Catholic Church holds that healthcare is a right, not a commodity.
Hoyer said The Catholic Health Association has six principles underlying their position on health care: human dignity, concern for the poor and vulnerable, justice, the common good, stewardship and pluralism.
The principle of the common good is the realization that the health and well being of the individual is largely dependant on the health and well being of the community, she said. Also, she said pluralism is the encouragement of both the public and private sectors to become involved in healthcare.
Hoyler explained how these principles could translate into a health care system. She said health care should be affordable for everyone, oriented toward prevention, fairly financed and designed for quality.
Brooke Druktenis, a senior Saint Mary’s nursing student, said it is important to stress healthcare for all at all ages. She said her focus was on “preventative care instead of intervention care for the here and now.”
We have a moral responsibility to express our views on healthcare, Hoyler said.