A guest post written by Steven Salt, Committee on Publication for Ohio
Amid the nationwide debate about health care and each individual’s search for a safe, effective and affordable approach, more of us are experiencing the “aha moment” when it becomes clear that being healthy and staying in the pink is an individual responsibility. It’s a personal endeavor.
November 2012 has been declared “Personal Health Care Month” by Ohio Governor, John Kasich. The executive proclamation is the outcome of a proposal initiated by the Cleveland Clinic and the OSU Wexner Medical Center which hope to raise awareness on how individuals can increase their own role in improving their health.
Dr. Clay Marsh, executive director of the Center for Personalized Health Care at OSU says that it is important to “focus on the health and well-being of our families, friends and communities. Given the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to recognize the central importance of family, fun, food and gratitude for our health and longevity.”
Events associated with the observance during November will emphasize among other things the importance of proper diet, exercise and “decreasing stress by increasing mood, optimism and spiritual growth.”
Spirituality is receiving a lot of attention in the health care community lately. Dr. Christina Puchalski has published a new textbook for health care workers, the Oxford Textbook of Spirituality and Healthcare, a comprehensive look at the role of spirituality in health care. She is director of the George Washington University Institute for Spirituality and Health.
Dr. Puchalski’s interest in the connection between spirituality and health began two decades ago. She is primarily responsible for the first compulsory medical school course on spiritually and health in the U.S., an area of study that has spread to most health related academic institutions today.
Amid the journey to bring spirituality into health care, how to define “spirituality” has been a key area of concern. “It’s very broadly defined: religion, philosophy, relationship, compassion, love, dignity, respect, a person’s search for purpose, meaning, nature, rationalism, the arts,” Pulchaski explains in an interview with Michelle Boorstein at The Washington Post.
The trend toward recognizing the role of spirituality in health care speaks more to patient centered care and the idea that it is “about you” than any other trend in medicine today. After all, our health is crucial to our life and how we think about our health is an outcome of how we see life. Is it just biological or is it something more?
From my Christian roots I think of spirituality as God’s infinite universe (which includes me) and where my health and well-being are an outcome of what God knows and makes evident. Praying refreshes me and allows me to see myself from a different angle; from a spiritual perspective. And this consistently reinforces my health. “The calm, strong currents of true spirituality, the manifestations of which are health, purity, and self-immolation, must deepen human experience,” writes Mary Baker Eddy, author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and an important contributor to the dialog about the connection between spirituality and every day/practical health.
Dr. Puchalski confirms on her institute’s website what we already know, that deliberations over ways to improve health care have been primarily focused on technology and physical science. “What is uniformly missing is a relationship-centered compassionate approach, and that’s the foundation of spirituality in health care. How do we honor the individuality of each person? We respect patients and their families, and we need to integrate them into creating their own treatment plans and empower them to find hope and healing in their own lives.”
Senator Tom Patton (24th Senate District), a lifelong resident of Cuyahoga County, has a keen interest in empowering individuals regarding their health care and alerting them to their responsibilities. Senator Patton is sponsor of Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 31 in tandem with the Governor’s initiative to bring attention to the contributions each individual can make in their own health care. He sees big benefits from a personalized health approach, which includes “extended quality of life and life expectancy.”
The Senator understands the importance of educating the public about the health choices they have and the decisions they can make now to avoid hospitalization later. It is about the individual. Patton puts it this way: Hospitals have “enough business already, they don’t need more.”
While the pursuit for the best health practices continues alongside the deliberations on how to include everyone in the push for healthier lives, there is consensus on this: health care is about YOU!
Steven Salt is a writer and blogger about health, spirituality and thought. He is a Christian Science practitioner, curious about everything, and intrigued by questions as well as answers. You can follow him on Twitter @SaltSeasoned.