I’ve spent way too much time in the critical care unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital lately. My dad suffered a massive cardiac arrest and thankfully, lives to talk about it. Like most families we spent over a week crying, praying, and waiting. His recovery was not in our hands.
Each day as I came in and out, I was greeted by a large quote from Mother Teresa that adorns the elevator. It states, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I’m a longtime fan of Mother Teresa and her work with the poor, however thought it was an odd choice for the unit. After several days of seeing families and patients come in and out, I finally appreciated the quote in this context. How or why someone got sick is not the concern of the critical care unit. Instead, the focus is on providing the love and care the patient needs in this exact moment.
Can you imagine if nurses or doctors decided to use a patient’s lifestyle as an evaluation tool to determine if they should help? Not exercising regularly? No medicine until you learn your lesson. So you’re a smoker? No help for you! Low IQ? No surgery. I think it’s safe to say that God would be pretty upset if this was the new healthcare reform package.
Within our Society of St. Vincent De Paul (SVDP), we are indeed caregivers. We are responsible to lift up individuals who are struggling with rent or utility payments. Our role is not to judge our friends in need. Instead, we are there to remind them that they are not alone. We want to help whenever we can and offer hope. We do have information to gather to determine legitimacy and need, however this process is developed to be both kind and swift.
I ran into one of the night shift nurses a few weeks after my dad went home. She was so glad to hear that he was doing well. She said she often worries and wonders about patients once they leave. Many SVDP volunteers often feel like this after we help someone. We pray, but we know their journey is not in our hands. And, in this journey, we all need help from time to time.
As volunteer organization, we meet at the church. We don’t have a building, more or less an elevator. If we did, I think that Mother Teresa quote décor would be highly appropriate. Perhaps this one, “Not all of us do great things. But, we can do small things with great love.” She reminds us that that our role is really simple. Don’t judge, just love. We’re all capable of kindness. And, since we’re all on the same elevator, it seems wise to press the right buttons that lead upward.
--Blog entry submitted by Jennifer McCarron, SVDP volunteer.