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Keeping the Catholic in Catholic health care

Brad Heidrick is the CEO of Catholic Community Health.

by Brad Heidrick

Faith comes first.

It’s a simple concept that’s repeated to all of us throughout our faith journey, but we all need that subtle reminder from time to time.

Like being reminded on a flight that it’s important to put our own oxygen mask on first, if we try to put something before our faith, we’re the first to suffer.

When we were bringing the archdiocesan health care ministries of Catholic Hospice and Homecare (formerly under the Catholic Charities umbrella) and Villa St. Francis all under a single banner, we felt it was important to name the organization with this thought in mind: Catholic Community Health is first, and foremost, Catholic.

One important way that we demonstrate the critical importance of leading with our faith is by adhering to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services (or ERDs, for short).

This document, put out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, makes our care decisions much easier, by providing guidelines on nutrition, hydration, pain management with optimal consciousness and much more. It serves as a critical reminder that each person we serve is made in the image and likeness of God.

One of our hospice volunteers truly said it best: “When I’m at the bedside praying with someone in need, I can see the face of Jesus right there before me. It’s an opportunity to encounter him in the flesh.”

Recently, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has made the ERDs particular canon law to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and we are grateful for his leadership and guidance.

We are blessed to have experts — like our chief mission officer, deacons and a member of our board — certified in the ERDs who offer guidance and training to our staff.

Seeing the fruit that has been born of this education, we have started doing presentations at parishes to help form the faithful throughout the archdiocese and educate them on the critical importance of authentically Catholic care. You can feel the Holy Spirit guiding this movement, and I am grateful to play a part in it.

“Health care in the United States is marked by extraordinary change.” This opening sentence of the ERDs is something that we feel each and every day. Our patients’ needs and the world around us are in a constant state of flux.

Part of our mission is to educate and equip those that we serve, their families and all those that we encounter on the importance of following the ERDs, especially as the only Catholic hospice provider in the Kansas City area. And armed with this great wisdom provided by our bishops, we are able to deliver excellent, but more importantly, Catholic, care.

About the author

Brad Heidrick

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