Every two weeks or so, this diabetic’s bad habits—drinking, getting high—landed him in Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s seven-hospital system in Memphis. During a hospital visit a couple of years back, a question sparked the beginning of the change.
“Who’s your pastor?” hospital staff member Blanch Thomas asked. The Rev. Martin McCain, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, he responded. Ms. Thomas checked records and found the church was in Methodist Healthcare’s Congregational Health Network—the official title of the Memphis Model.
Ms. Thomas, who carries the title “navigator” in the network, called Dr. McCain. He unleashed some tough love on the man.
“I told him, ‘You have to take care of yourself if you want to be helpful to your girlfriend and your kids. You are too sick to be out running around with your fellas,’” Dr. McCain said.
Dr. McCain persisted, often tracking the man down on the streets. The pastor also kept in close contact with Ms. Thomas.
Today, the man—now 31—has made positive lifestyle changes that keep him away from the hospital for months at a time.
“I hate to even think about where he’d be if it wasn’t for CHN,” Ms. Thomas said of the network (by Nancy Hull Rigdon, the United Methodist Reporter, October 24, 2012).
Again, I wonder if we could do something like that in Richmond: create a partnership between hospitals and congregations that would give people life and not just save people’s lives. It’s not just “tough love” that people need. Some people need tender love. They need someone to bring them a casserole when they come home from the hospital, someone to remind them to take their pills, someone to drive them to a doctor’s appointment. All of those are ways of helping people stay healthy and stay out of the hospital. Wouldn’t that be a good way to bring heaven to earth?