NHS Values Based Lecturer: ‘Lift Up the Common Good’

MARCH 21, 2014 – A well-known member of the Sisters of Social Service encouraged future health professionals to remember values while caring for patients.

“We need you all to be engaged not just in the individual patient care, but in the broader story of living our values – living our values in a way that brings us together as a nation,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby.

The value of the common good is central, the attorney and poet told an audience gathered in the Leavey Conference Center.

“I say that the common good is at the heart of who we are as a nation and as a faith perspective as well,” she said.  “Our faith leads us to this moment.”

Annual Lecture

Campbell delivered the keynote address in the school’s Values Based Lecture Series, sponsored annually by the Committee on Mission and Values at the School of Nursing & Health Studies.

“The [committee] works every year to put together a phenomenal lecture, and this year is no exception,” said co-chair Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Chair in Values Based Health Care, during a brief welcome.

Carol Taylor, PhD, RN, professor of nursing, introduced Campbell – noting that she had spoken at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is one of the “Nuns on the Bus,” and will soon publish the book A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne, April 2014).

“Her lifetime work … is so consistent with our values based program and initiative here at Georgetown University,” Taylor said.

‘Values are Key’

During her lecture, Campbell addressed the Affordable Care Act – including the political fights about it, as well as the law’s impact on the uninsured.  She said that faith drives her work.

“I come at this work from faith,” she said.  “Obviously I am a Catholic sister,” she said.  “The Gospel matters to me deeply.  We’re here at Georgetown, a Catholic institution where the basis of Catholic social teaching and Catholic values are key.”

She told the audience to remember that health care is more than politics.

“Health care is seen just down the road as a political football – a political football to fight about, to argue over, to score political points and be done with it,” she said.  “But you all know that it is more than politics.  We’re talking about people’s real lives.  And that’s where our values are key.  Because we need to cut through the political jargon and lift up the common good, which is at the heart of everything we care about.”

Step in the Right Direction

Campbell said the law – while not perfect – is a step in the right direction.

“The truth is it’s not perfect,” she said.  “The truth is it does move us forward to get greater access, promote the common good, and make sure that people who [didn’t have] access to health care otherwise can be cared for.”

She said that respectful conversations among those who disagree are important going forward.

“Valuing each other enough to listen to diverse ideas, valuing each other enough to try to understand different perspectives, valuing each other to stretch across political divides really is the only way forward,” she said.  “Jesus was right.  Love everyone.  Forgive everyone – seven times 70.  And give up that divisiveness. … In health care, we need you to be clear, value based, loving, open, thoughtful people willing to accept the other.”

Nuns on the Bus

About the Nuns on the Bus movement, which is sponsored by NETWORK and focuses on a variety of social issues, Campbell said, “Everybody’s welcome on the bus. …What we’re saying on the bus feeds a hunger that is broad and deep.”

She noted that the bus is for people of all faiths. “It’s about being human beings together and letting love and joy be a part of it,” she said.

Said Campbell: “We promote joy, and we welcome everybody.”

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