What does it mean to be a Catholic hospital in 2021? Does it really differ from other hospitals? After all, just about every organisation has a Vision and Mission statement and some kind of founding story, which can often be found on a shelf gathering dust.
I couldn’t have fully answered this question before joining St John of God Health Care and seeing the genuine and tangible ways in which our Vision and Mission shape the provision of patient care, the way that caregivers treat each other and the organisation’s role in the community. It is driven by purpose – caregivers and doctors are committed to our Vision to provide healing, hope and dignity, especially to those most in need.
Often patient feedback captures this best. Patients talk about being seen as a person, respect for their dignity, being shown compassion and hospitality and being journeyed with at a time they were most vulnerable. All patients have access to emotional and spiritual support through our Pastoral Services team, which is central to the provision of holistic, person centred care and reflects a focus on caring for the whole person rather than solely curing a physical illness or injury.
It can also be seen in the way that services are developed to address areas of unmet need in the community, such as St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s planned mental health service and the radiation oncology facility currently being developed. Another obvious example is the use of a proportion of revenue to fund a range of social outreach programs that support the physical, mental and emotional wellness of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. The culture comes through in the way people interact with kindness and hospitality – new caregivers often comment on this and emphasise that the warmth is contagious.
Fostering this culture and connection to purpose is a perpetual work in progress. In my role as Director of Mission Integration at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, I support our leaders to embed our Mission (to continue the healing mission of Jesus) and inspire a shared vision in their teams. This includes facilitating Formation (reflective practice focused on the integration of SJGHC Vision, Mission and Values into everyday actions and behaviours) with leaders and all caregivers. Our Hospital Management Committee take part in monthly Reflection for Action sessions and major decisions go through a Mission Discernment process to ensure that decisions align with our Mission and Values. I also work closely with leaders to address specific challenges and strengthen connection with our Mission in their teams.
We celebrate our Mission, heritage and Catholic identity through commemorating key dates such as St John of God Day, the Sisters of St John of God Foundation Day and other Catholic feast days. Mass is celebrated several times per week in our Hospital chapel, which is open to patients, caregivers, doctors and visitors for prayer and reflection. We continue to be inspired by our founding stories, such as those of the Sisters of St John of God who travelled across the world from Wexford in Ireland to care for Western Australians suffering from typhoid over a series of epidemics in the 1890s.
Our Vision and Mission are owned by each of our caregivers, especially our leaders. We continue to focus on making these a reality and hope this continues to be reflected in the experiences of our patients, caregivers, doctors and community.