March-April 2020 | Volume 101, Number 2
BY: LISA SMITH, MPA
As a vital ministry of the church, Catholic health care has long been called to bring healing and hope—to provide care for patients and communities as well as to advocate for the changes needed in our society to protect human dignity and promotethe common good. We believe every person is created in the image of God, that each life is sacred and possesses inalienable worth, and that access to health care is essential to protecting the inherent dignity of every individual.
BY: FR. CHARLES BOUCHARD, OP, STD
All of us would like to see the ministry of Catholic health care as prophetic and oriented to the common good. That should be easy, except for two things. First, the common good is widely misunderstood, and second, prophets have an image problem.
BY: RACHEL C. TANNER, MJur
Across the United States, rural communities are facing enormous pressure to survive.Younger generations are leaving to find economic opportunity elsewhere, employers are shutting down, the remaining population is aging, and health care providers and facilities are stretched nearly to the breaking point. In fact, more than 160 rural hospitals have closed since 2005, and 21% of all rural hospitals are at high risk of closure due to financial instability.
BY: LILIA CERVANTES, MD, and NANCY BERLINGER, PhD
Health policy that serves the common good in America's unequal society should aim to mitigate health-related disadvantages. Low income, minority race/ethnicity, and lack of insurance are examples of social (non-medical) determinants of health associ-ated with barriers to health care access and/or poorer health outcomes. Health equity starts by confronting inequality, then using tools of research and policymaking to reduce built-in – structural disadvantages a patient or population cannot fix.
BY: DAVID SHEETS
With the 2020 presidential campaign well underway, economic inequality continues to gain strength as one of the top issues in the election. Six in 10 U.S. adults believe the level of inequality is too high, according to the Pew Research Center.
Of those, most say the solution requires a wholesale change to the economic system.
BY: BENJAMIN F. MILLER, PsyD
The data is going in the wrong direction. While life expectancy has been on the rise since the 1960s, its sharp decline over the last three years is a sign that something is fundamentally broken in the United States. It's 2020, and we are losing more lives to preventable causes than ever before. Deaths due to drugs, alcohol and suicide are at an all-time high, and our country is hurting in ways that are multifaceted — attributable to overlapping issues and circumstances. For some, it may be access to affordable health care. For others, it may have more to do with social and economic factors. Loneliness, worry, isolation and issues of belonging are key drivers of despair, and we must be bold in our vision and courageous in our decision making if we are serious about making a difference in our country's health.
BY: ALISHA COTTRELL, SEAN D. GEHLE and LINDA ROOT, RN, MAHCM
Catholic health care is called to assure and promote the common good and Catholic social tradition, thought and practice. We answer the Gospel call to affirm that each person's life is a treasure and everyone should have the opportunity to flourish. Access to quality health care is a right and is necessary for everyone to achieve that vision.
BY: SR. DORIS GOTTEMOELLER, RSM, PhD
Nothing is as intuitively simple to grasp and as complex to implement as the concept of the common good. According to the U.S. Catholic bishops, the common good comprises "the social conditions that allow people as individuals and groups to reach their full human potential and to realize their human dignity." It would be hard to make an argument that the common good is not something to be universally valued and sought.
BY: FR. GERALD A. ARBUCKLE, SM, PhD
Today so many people are overwhelmed with grief, a consequence of the global revelations of appalling sexual abuse scandals and cover-ups. Church hierarchies, priests and religious feel demoralized by what has happened. Lay people feel betrayed, ashamed, disillusioned and angry, their trust in their leaders destroyed.
BY: BRIAN SMITH, MS, MA, MDiv
"Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling. It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.".