“Let’s build a culture of care together”

Spiritual attention alongside and together with health care, in union between patient and doctor: this is the “alliance” one hoped for at the conference at the Cancer Institute, where the Archbishop participated

A phase of the conference

A phase of the conference

of Annamaria
Braccini

The hospital as a place not only for diagnosis and clinical intervention, but also for culture, care, relationships, spirituality, integrated service to the person. Like all this controversial and very current theme is outlined in the beautiful volume The spirituality of care. Dialogues between clinic, psychology and mental health (see description here), published by Edizioni San Paolo with a foreword by Pope Francis, presented in Aula magna from the National Cancer Institute, reopened in full capacity for the occasion.

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In the presence of the Archbishop and moderated by Don Stefano Stimamiglio, Pauline Pastor for Christian family, the leaders of this world-famous IRCCS of expertise, with the President of the Marco Votta Foundation and the Director General Carlo Nicora, the two authors – the pastor of the Institute Don Tullio Proserpio (read his interview here) and Carlo Alfredo Clerici, teacher and doctor -, clinicians and experts from different disciplines. There is no shortage of representatives of medical institutions, such as the president of Amci Milano Alberto Cozzi, and of the municipality.

At the opening, Votta is reminiscent of the origins of the institute .: “Our hospital was born in 1928 with the idea that the patient is the center of health care, and this book points out that man still needs spirituality. If the scientific world is capable to provide rational responses to the disease, attention to spiritual needs and the way patients are treated is just as important.Sometimes a smile or a quiet presence next to the patient is enough, little but necessary attention.Our goals and the goals of the book is to launch an interdisciplinary perspective that accelerates the creation of places with a human face where we can welcome patients in their entirety. As Professor Veronesi said, “it is necessary to heal the sick first”.

The words of the Archbishop

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A vision – this one – elaborated in the archbishop’s intervention: “The theme of spirituality in the course of treatment makes it more human and sharp”, he emphasizes based on the religions’ indisputable role in creating space for shelter and help for the suffering (just think of hospital orders): ” In ancient Greek and Roman hospitals – perhaps born of the Buddhist religion – temples were close by, and with the spread of Christianity, treatment was one of the most widespread forms of witnessing the faith, because the connection between care and religion was clear. science has developed in such a way that it seems that it no longer needs spirituality, philosophy and psychology, but only a lot of competence, technology, instrumentation ‘.

Hence the three models of interpretation, proposed by the Archbishop, in the relationship between spirituality and care: “The first is of inner inclusion, the second of mutual alienation. Furthermore, the presence of priests in the hospital could even act as a juxtaposition between those who care for the soul and those who, like health professionals, care for the body. Faced with these three models, it is necessary to move to an alliance. We must build a culture of care together: for this reason, the hospital is a cultural place, and spirituality must suggest how to formulate this alliance. “

The Archbishop during his speech

The Archbishop during his speech

But how do you concretely implement this change of perspective and mentality? “First of all, we need to think about the spirituality of those who care, who can not only be the provider of a service. For this reason, training is very important, attention to the calm of doctors and staff with work rhythms that allow them to cultivate family ties and a spirituality that is not a parenthesis of the work, but something inherent to the profession. If you do not love yourself, how can you love others? ».

“To heal, you have to take care of people as a whole. Perhaps one could say that at the center is not the disease, not the patient, but the relationship between those who care and those who are treated. The so-called narrative medicine stems from this intuition, because not only must the patient be listened to in order to obtain informed consent, which is also indispensable, but conditions must be created with him or her for interpersonal relationships in addition to diagnostics, also because we know that in this way the same cures yield a more convincing and satisfying fruit. Even the unfortunate outcome can be handled differently, supporting the person in illuminating his or her fate. The interpersonal relationship implies a dynamic of restoration of spirituality, intended as completed and functional for the benefit of the subject. The question is certainly about healing, but it must also go to the meaning of life, for Christian spirituality is an opening to the relationship to the mystery: it is what we call hope, which is not only the expectation of healing, but awareness that life is a response to a promise, not just a destination to die for. In this perspective, an alliance between institutions can also be placed: Let us make sure that a hospital is also qualified for clergy ».

The authors’ intervention

The Archbishop with Carlo Alfredo Clerici and Don Tullio Proserpio

The Archbishop with Carlo Alfredo Clerici and Don Tullio Proserpio

In memory of the figure of the servant of God Antonietta Guadalupi, consecrated by the Maria Santissima Annunziata Institute (one of the 10 branches of the Pauline family), born in 1947 and died in 2001, professional health assistant at the Cancer Institute and forerunner of a care for the sick also from a spiritual point of view – evoked by Don Stimamiglio -, begins the message from the co-author of the essay, Carlo Alfredo Clerici: “Surely faith is a divisive factor, but being on the human level. sharing and hope are very promising”, he states, while Don Proserpio adds: “There is no magic word, the fully convincing answer to the meaning of life, pain, illness, but one can always help and support. Sometimes we risk talking too much when we are close the sick we think of Jesus who speaks very little is approaching his passion and death.Good academic training is of course becoming more and more basic, but also what is learned close to patients and operators.This is the way we try to g to every day ».

Finally, with Progea Italia representative Filippo Azzali, the objectives of Joint Commission International, or rather by the body responsible for validating the good procedures offered within a healthcare facility. An acknowledgment issued by Joint Commission, which means having excellent world-class healthcare.

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