Dignity Health applauds mindfulness, kindness in latest installments in campaign

August 15, 2018


Four years ago, Dignity Health came up with a "recipe" for its culture of spirituality: life-giving relationships, meaningful work and reflective pause; and it emphasizes these ingredients in its ongoing Hello humankindness campaign. This year, the health system added some spice to the mix with a visit from a celebrity and with videos documenting sweet, altruistic gestures made by elementary school students.

In April, singer, songwriter and mindfulness devotee Jewel joined Dignity Health to promote the practice of mindfulness. And, several months earlier, a group of elementary schoolchildren showed that joy and kindness go hand in hand when they performed acts of empathy, friendship or inclusion, which San Francisco-based Dignity Health produced as video vignettes.

Moment-to-moment awareness
The Jewel collaboration came about after the Grammy Award-nominated singer spotted one of Dignity Health's Hello humankindness messages while she was in Las Vegas for a concert series. Hello humankindness is a campaign Dignity Health launched five years ago to promote positive human connectivity, charity, gratefulness, self-care and other concepts that the health system believes promote well-being.

Jewel performs in the lobby of Dignity Health's St. Rose Dominican, San Martín Campus in Las Vegas during an April 25 visit to promote mindfulness. During her visit, she spoke of how she found happiness through mindfulness practices.

Through Hello humankindness, Dignity Health has been encouraging people to take a reflective pause, including by practicing mindfulness. Jewel practices and promotes mindfulness herself, and so when she learned of Dignity Health's endorsement of the practice, she contacted the system to explore how to work together to spread the use of the technique.

Through mindfulness, people maintain a state of heightened or complete awareness of their thoughts, emotions or experiences in order to gain better control of their well-being. According to Rev. Tom Harshman, Dignity Health vice president of mission integration, the system has been encouraging its employees and community members to take a reflective pause of at least two minutes at a time at least once per day to pray, think deeply or use other techniques to gain mental clarity and spiritual balance.

When it comes to its employees, Dignity Health has found that this practice — which Rev. Harshman says harkens back to the meditative and contemplative prayer practices of the system's foundresses — reduces staff turnover and increases patient satisfaction. Rev. Harshman says the practice also helps employees better connect with the people around them. For Jewel's part, she credits mindfulness with helping her overcome a history of struggle and gain emotional control and stability.

In a video series Dignity Health and Jewel created together, which is available online at https://youtu.be/LvD_uU8LOuo. Jewel and Rev. Harshman discuss how the practice can enrich lives and lead people to more positive human connections.

Jewel also visited Dignity Health's St. Rose Dominican San Martín Campus in Las Vegas on April 25 where she met with doctors, nurses and other staff from throughout the hospital. Patients in the maternity unit told her about their experiences practicing mindfulness.

During a free concert for employees, patients and hospital visitors, Jewel spoke about her own journey from homelessness to stardom, explaining the significant positive impact mindfulness practice has had on her life.

For the Great Kindness Challenge early this year, Colin, at right, had a trophy inscribed with "Jaiden, Best Friend, 2018" made for his pal. The boys are students at James Madison Elementary School in San Leandro, Calif., which is in Dignity Health's service area.

Mark Viden, vice president of brand marketing for Dignity Health, said the Jewel collaboration and the broader Hello humankindness campaign are part of the health system's efforts to champion affirmative changes in health care and in society. "We believe that while medicine may have the power to cure, it is humanity that holds the power to heal," he said.

Kindness challenge
Dignity Health produced its video vignettes of children as part of its annual participation in the Great Kindness Challenge. Dignity Health posted them on its social media feeds during the week of Jan. 22, the week of the Great Kindness Challenge.

The nonprofit organization Kids for Peace annually holds the challenge, which aims to create a culture of kindness in schools worldwide. As part of the challenge, the organization asks children to complete as many acts of kindness as they can during that week. Kids for Peace provides a checklist of ideas, including donating items to an animal shelter, delivering a special gift to a child in a hospital, writing a loving note for someone and helping to plant a garden.

Dignity Health asked fifth graders at select schools throughout its service area to choose a person to surprise with an act of kindness. The system filmed several of the children carrying out their good deeds.

One child, Naomi, organized a game day, inviting children with disabilities to play with balls, hula hoops and other toys with other children. "I want to make them happy," Naomi said.

Another student, Colin, had a real trophy made, with the inscription "Jaiden, Best Friend, 2018," and presented it to a special pal in his class. Colin said, "I want to make him feel appreciated."

Evelyn arranged artificial flowers to create an indoor garden for her grandmother, complete with a sign that said, "I love you, Abuelita," which is Spanish for "little grandmother." Her grandmother had been in the hospital and needed some cheering up.

Along with the video series, Dignity Health conducted a survey on the power of kindness, in conjunction with the Kindness Challenge. In the national poll of 1,001 American adults, 74 percent of respondents agreed that adults could learn a lot about kindness by watching how children interact with the world. Half of the survey respondents said they were more kind to others when they themselves were a child. And 83 percent of respondents said they could have been more kind, even to their significant other, in the month prior.



Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.

Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.