By Lindell Joseph
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
During the pandemic, I began to recognize the limitations of the healthcare environment and urged you to be vigilant by taking control of your health. Some of these limitations have had an impact on optimal patient-family communication with the healthcare team, and it has highlighted the importance of your role in your personal health. Two trends are important to address:
Trend #1: Many family members or support persons are not able to be present during hospitalizations, clinic visits, and telehealth appointments. This limits the ability of patients and families to pose the right questions. Are you addressing the right provider? Do you know your available options, and what are the next steps?
Trend #2: There is a reluctance to engage in preventive health care services due to the pandemic. On my brief visit to New York City this summer, I noticed my aunt had a mild tremor to her left arm. I immediately inquired. She attributed the tremor to being anxious about COVID-19. Upon returning to Iowa City, I mobilized my network to get her a neurological appointment. A month later, we have a formal medical diagnosis and have started a treatment plan for her.
I urge you to be proactive, take control of your health, and do not make excuses or wait too long to address health needs. There are too many conditions that can be managed proactively with early recognition, diagnosis, and with the use of technology. Here are three concepts to reimagine healthcare using evidence, the church’s teachings and Scripture.
Engage in care anywhere
Be proactive by investing in current technology to monitor your weight, blood pressure and heart rate, allow implantable sensors, and enable real-time images. According to Pope John Paul II (2002), science and technology can be used in full and constructive ways, but recognize that discovery must be evaluated in light of the human person and the common good. He also stated that science may help us to correct the mistakes of the past and to enhance the spiritual and material well-being of present and future generations.
Scripture: Mathew 9:12 Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Develop care networks
Be your own advocate but call on the Holy Spirit for guidance. Identify which friends and family members can assist you with getting to your medical appointments, assist with dressing changes, pick up your prescriptions, set up follow-up appointments and help you prepare healthy meals. It is critical to have a network or support system to help manage your health-care needs.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1-2, 8-9, 11 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.
Adhere to care customization
Some people may be tempted to share prescriptions, treatments or medical equipment. This is a reminder that treatment goals may be different for each person based on genetics, lifestyle, weight and pre-existing conditions. Today, organizations may use data analytics to determine the most ideal treatment plan based on your individual goals and other diagnostics. Basically, what may be effective for one may not be as effective for another. For example, one medication may work better than another one for pain relief or decongestion. This can vary from person to person. Read and learn more about your options and your unique needs.
Scripture: Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In conclusion, as I reflect on 1 Corinthians 3:16, I am reminded that we are temples of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in us. Surely the care and maintenance of God’s temple (our bodies) is a premiere goal for each of us. Therefore, I urge you to take control of your personal health by engaging in care anywhere, developing care networks, and adhering to care customization goals. You are too precious to ignore self-care.
Vatican (2002). Common declaration of John Paul II and the ecumenical patriarch His Holiness Bartholomew I. Common Declaration on Environmental Ethics. http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/2002/june/
(Lindell Joseph, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a nurse, professor, and director of the Health Systems/Administration program at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She is a parishioner of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. Lindell also is a lay Carmelite who co-chairs the Healthy Habits Ministry at her parish.)