Sheila Roberts brings holistic approach to Saint Joseph – Berea

April 11, 2011 No Comments   

While Sheila Roberts flipped through the pages of the latest edition of Catholic Health Initiatives’ Sacred Stories, the title “James Died Today” jumped out. Written by a nurse at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Colorado, the story described a patient who was at the end stage of lymphocytic leukemia and the hospital’s efforts to ease his discomfort and aloneness through its “Touch, Love and Compassion” team. Sheila perked up as she began to read more about the team’s efforts to help heal patients through a holistic approach, rather than just cure their symptoms or disease.

“I called Mercy to ask about their program,” says Sheila, manager of the radiology department at Saint Joseph – Berea. “They not only spend time loving on patients, they offer massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy and music to complement patients’ traditional medical care.”

Since Saint Joseph already embraced this type of care—treating the whole person: body, mind and spirit—Sheila thought a similar team would be a perfect addition to Saint Joseph Berea. With support of Saint Joseph Berea’s president, Greg Gerard, Sheila created a “Touch, Love and Compassion” (TLC) launch team comprised of Associates from several disciplines. In early April, these Associates began visiting with patients, families and other Associates in the waiting areas and inside patient rooms. Pushing a cart overflowing with crossword puzzles, books, magazines, poetry, scripture, toys, drinks and healthy snacks, they offer solutions to boredom and more importantly, a listening ear. TLC team members engage people in conversation, ask if they need anything, pray with them and offer emotional support.

“The cart is a nice ice breaker,” says Sheila, who has worked at Saint Joseph Berea for almost a year and previously at Saint Joseph Hospital for 10 years. “It’s just about making that initial contact with them and tuning in to their needs. Opening blinds, fluffing pillows, sitting on the end of someone’s bed and holding a hand are little touches that mean so much. It’s not just about physically getting better, but improving their whole attitude.”

Although the program is in its infancy, several community members in Berea are expressing a desire to help including “WaysMeet” Healing Arts Center, which offers non-traditional approaches to healing such as acupuncture, energy therapy, yoga and tai chi. Several artists also want to paint murals on the walls to help create a relaxing environment.

“It’s gaining momentum,” says Sheila. “We have the right community for it. The next question is where do we want to take it? TLC team members meet regularly to discuss future growth.”

In the meantime, Sheila hopes to expand the program from three days a week to daily. “I would love for more Associates to get involved,” she says. “I think it’s a good way to get our spiritual tanks filled up.”

At a recent retreat, managers were asked to wear a T-shirt that expressed something about them. Blazoned across Sheila’s shirt was the word “Revolution.”

“Part of my mission this year is to create change every where I go,” says Sheila. “All the little ripples have an effect some day.”

Employee Stories, Saint Joseph Berea

Leave a Reply