Some health care providers think of their work as simply providing services or products. We think of Maple City Health Care Center as a health care home. A home is where a person feels safe, welcome, known, and valued.
Maple City Health Care Center is a health care home for people in the north, east, and central neighborhoods of Goshen Indiana.
A health care home is a place where people can obtain a wide range of health care help. We help patients stay healthy with wellness visits and immunizations. When our patients feel sick, we diagnose the problem and offer treatment. We connect our patients with eye care and dental care. We recognized that mental health and physical health are connected, so we offer counseling in conjunction with medicine.
Being a health care home means that we invest in building long term relationships with our patients, with each other, and with the community. We think about and work toward the health of the community as well as the health of individual patients.
As I have prepared for this time here at AMBS, I’ve become more and more aware of the ways my faith convictions and especially my experiences of the church have been formative, not just for me personally, but for the health center as an organization. I understand there are people who are writing about theopolitical imagination these days, and people talking about how the church can animate a political imagination. During this chapel I want to offer a couple glimpses from my experience about my experience of the church’s potential to animate the life of or give shape to a community organization; I suppose we could call my subject ecclesio-organizational imagination” or (even more clumsily) “ecclesiologically inspired organizational formation.”
I understand that theological center guests are invited to do something autobiographical in this first chapel time. Obviously, in these few minutes I can’t begin to tell my whole 50-year-long story, or even the health center’s 20-year-long one, so I’ll settle for relating a few stories that may begin to suggest some connections between the shape the health care center has taken and models of the church I have known.
I’m not opposed to being practical and fiscally responsible. I make budgets and watch bottom lines carefully; I drive a hard bargain when negotiating agreements with laboratories and Medicaid contractors. But whenever I hear community or church leaders advocating a certain course of action because what is at stake is nothing less than the organization’s survival—then I see red flags waving. Whenever I hear such appeals, I ask myself, “What is being advocated here, that would not otherwise seem justifiable? What are we being urged to do that is not consonant with this body’s mission and identity?”
Tonight I want to offer you a brief survey of the history of the health care center. But what I will tell is not a history of its program development, or its staff development, or how it has become financially sustainable. Rather I want to offer you a glimpse into the development of its vision, a work still evolving—in fits and starts, through failure and anxiety, as well as in renewed energy and excitement and joy. It is a vision for a reconciling and healing community, not principally as a result of programmatic activity but as an expression, an integral part, of who we are becoming. In this vision I hope you will see some relevance for the church, for our congregations and our agencies, and for yourselves as leaders and leaders in training in church and community.
Octavio and Denise (all names have been changed), a married couple with two young children moved into our neighborhood. We helped them obtain Emergency Medicaid coverage. We helped them with prenatal service and with the birth of their child. When Denise needed emergency surgery for a septic gall bladder, we asked the hospital and doctors to donate their services.
Octavio and Denise, to express their gratitude, saved up money for months and then used our conference room to host a banquet. They invited all of the doctors and staff who helped them. Medical staff sat at the table while Octavio and Denise served a delicious Mexican meal that they had prepared.
As we enjoyed each other’s company, we realized that all of us were being nourished.
Maple City Health Care Center is a table, a place where people gather to share, to be sustained, and to connect.
Additional References Created by Maple City Health Care Center
“In organizations, we usually think that the first job of the board, the first job of the organization, or the administration — of everybody — is organizational survival, which is clinging to things because you’re afraid of dying. So organizationally, how do we die to the fear of organizational death? How do we move beyond that?”