By Troy Wells, President and CEO of Baptist Health
More often than not, when I ask people how they’re doing, they say they’re tired—everything from being tired of wearing masks to being emotionally tired from living with a constant sense of fear to being physically tired from pushing themselves beyond their normal capacity.
People struggling with their health often feel that same exhaustion with the combination of worry and physical debilitation. That’s why we stress the fact that Baptist Health is a healing ministry. We know that when the body and mind are weakened, spiritual care is an essential part of what keeps us and our patients going.
This holistic approach is at the heart of what we do.
From its inception, the Baptist State Hospital was meant to provide spiritual care as well as medical care. At first, the hospital used volunteers to provide spiritual comfort to patients. Several members of the Women’s Auxiliary—most notably Mrs. R. C. Rudisill and Mrs. J. M. Flennigan—spent much time at the hospital visiting and praying with patients during the early years. Mrs. Flennigan functioned as “religious director” for a time but toward the end of World War II the Board decided the hospital needed a more formal program.
The Board hired Rev. J. F. Queen in 1944, marking the beginning of a formal spiritual-care program for the hospital. In 1963, Don Corley, then director of pastoral care, wrote a history of the department as a memorial to Dr. Queen. Corley wrote, “It was with the coming of Dr. Queen that a new era in the religious life of the hospital began; he brought with him all of the concern and energy of a pastor; he efficiently related this concern to the highly complex organization of a large general hospital.”
During the 1960s, Baptist Medical Center was a pioneer in the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) movement, and in 2010 Baptist Health became a fully-accredited center with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education.
But beyond our formal pastoral care program, I’m very proud of the fact that our spiritual care extends to every level of the organization. Our staff is encouraged to provide spiritual care through prayer and other spiritual comfort, and we hear from grateful patients on a regular basis.
Faith is what keeps us going through the tough times—when we think our minds and bodies can’t take any more. Our nation is going through an incredibly stressful time, so please take some time to take care of yourself…mind, body, and especially spirit.