Monday, 13 January 2014

Healing Patients as Whole People


Dr. Robert "Bob" Cutillo lives with his family in Denver, Colorado, where he practices medicine at the Inner City Health Center and the Colorado Coalition for the Homelessteaches at Denver Seminary, and contributes to various medical journals. [...]
What has been your biggest professional challenge?
Medicine is a powerful industry that has become increasingly successful in its ability to deal with sickness and death. This, however, has come at a cost—the disintegration of the person. The medical field wants to dissect people into their component parts. In this model, the patient is the object, and the doctor is the subject.
One of my patients, for example, was pregnant with a fetus diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality, and all of her doctors told her to have an abortion. They were operating under a reductionist model, separating her life from the life of her baby and her faith. She came to me, and I listened to her. She kept saying, "The baby was given to me by God. How can I abort it?" When the baby was born, she was given a name and baptized. In a few hours, as expected, the baby died. Her parents mourned deeply, but in a way that was possible only because they loved deeply.
When I study the healings of Jesus, I see an alternative to the medical model. He saw people as whole people, physically and spiritually. They were made in his image, and their sicknesses caused him pain. As a doctor, I know this is how my patients want me to see them. They are not objects, but subjects. They are not problems to be solved, but people who can act on me as much as I can act on them. There is reciprocity of relationship. I have to be willing to build relationships with them. 
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