Every day, I am humbled to witness these two very meaningful Caritas processes in the care delivered at BWH.
I continuously am struck at how each of you, each of us, becomes the environment of care when we meet each patient, family and community. We do so with loving kindness, curiosity and faith in the innate, healing capacity of another instead of judgment.
As we face end-of-life care with patients and families from all walks of life, this is especially significant. We are reminded of our Nursing Code of Ethics, which states that the “fundamental principle that underlies all nursing practice is respect for the inherent worth, dignity and human rights of every individual.”
As we reverentially assist with basic needs, I recall a story told to me by one of our fabulous and caring patient care assistants (PCA). She described how a Muslim woman she was caring for would not allow anyone to bathe her. Concerned for her comfort, the PCA assured her patient that she would maintain her dignity during the bath. The PCA then went on to describe what I would call a sacred dance – how she covered the patient with many towels, lifting, washing and replacing each towel, one at a time, ensuring that the cadence followed the signals sent by her patient. After that sacred act, the patient expressed her sincere gratitude and would wait to be washed by this PCA every day during her stay.
The Caritas processes are alive and well, and I witness them in the care I see you deliver every day. All members of our team from our nurses, PCAs, physicians, chaplains, social workers, physical therapists, nutritionists and interpreters so gently and humanely guide patients, families and each other through life’s most complex challenges.
Continuing to infuse BWH with intentionality and loving kindness will ensure that you remain connected to the joy and the meaning of your work.
Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services