Protecting Doctors’ Conscience

A long-standing ethic in healthcare is that doctors and nurses reserve the right to not participate in or facilitate abortions. Nonetheless, in recent years some influential voices in healthcare have called for an end to conscience protections. These efforts converge with the current political atmosphere that finds pro-abortion and pro-life state legislatures and governors determined to one up one another, passing laws that either ban all abortions or legalize them up to and including the moment of birth. While these efforts grab the headlines, anti-conscience advocates maneuver to force doctors to perform abortions even if it violates their religious or moral values. So much for the freedom to choose!

Michigan is one of more than two dozen states and cities asking a federal judge in Manhattan, New York to overturn a clarifying Health and Human Services rule that preserves professional conscience protections for clinicians. The plaintiffs argue that because abortion is a “legal medical procedure,” healthcare workers should provide it as they would any other medical service. The underlying premise of their argument is that abortion is simply “healthcare,” doctors are trained to provide healthcare; therefore, doctors must not be allowed to opt out of providing particular procedures to their patients. Simply put, doctors must not be allowed to object to nor opt out of killing babies in their mother’s womb.

The rich irony here is that the shrill “pro-choice” voices who blab on and on that abortion is about women’s “freedom to choose” don’t want doctors to have a choice – even female ones. Having already shut fathers out of the decision about the fate of their unborn children (Doe v. Bolton, 1973), abortion advocates now want to shut doctors out too, but still want their medical expertise, and they are willing to scuttle the First Amendment entirely to get their way. So much for the hollow blather “abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor.” Apparently, doctors no longer have standing in the abortion decision either.

Since when can patients compel doctors to do their bidding without objection? Are doctors now mere robots who exist to do as they are told by patients? Do we really want a medical community occupied by amoral technicians who mindlessly carry out society’s dirty work upon request? Set aside for the moment all the rhetoric about women’s rights, tragic circumstances such as fatal genetic defects, rape and incest and just consider this one thing: do we actually believe that to preserve a woman’s freedom of choice we have to suppress the doctor’s freedom? Is abortion such a hyper-protected right that we must casually discard the moral objections of those society forces to carry it out? No one is demanding that states force doctors to carry out executions against their conscience so why compel doctors to perform abortions?

 

Why the sudden push to compel doctors to participate in activity to which they object? Could it be because so many abortionists have stopped performing abortions? Could it

be because so many abortion clinics have bit the dust in recent years? Could it be that Planned Parenthood’s own abortion clinics are having a harder time recruiting hired assassins?

The pro-abortion crowd in the 1970s claimed unborn babies were just “collections of cells,” not humans. When science demonstrated otherwise, the rhetoric shifted away from what was being aborted to who makes the decision. The pro-abortion mantra became about women’s health, portraying it as a medical matter between a woman, her doctor and her minister or spiritual advisor. They forced abortion into insurance coverage and compelled many states taxpayers to pay for it. They no longer pretend to want a minister or spiritual advisor to advise the woman, and now they want to further isolate the woman by sidelining the doctor’s conscience too. In other words, the pro-abortion crowd doesn’t want anyone to have any influence over the woman’s decision, except of course those who claim to care so much about women and those who stand to profit from her abortion decision. Do you think an organization (i.e., Planned Parenthood) that makes millions performing over 300,000 abortions every year has a vested interest in steering women toward abortion? It doesn’t get any more evil than this.

Where We Stand:

Abortion isn’t healthcare. Women are not helped by killing her child, as millions of post-abortive women know.

Advocating for abortion doesn’t prove you are pro-woman. It proves you are anti-child.

Forcing doctors to shed their conscience in order to practice medicine is fertile ground for moral hazard.

A true healthcare system is dedicated to providing healthcare for women that doesn’t include killing their unborn children.

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How a Career in Healthcare Serves God

If you are a person of faith, then you are probably seeking a vocation that can bring fulfillment to your life. However, in today’s world, this can be a challenge. There are so many avenues that could lead you astray. However, when it comes to healthcare, it cannot just bring you joy, but also serve God. Here is how:

Healing

God loves those who heal. Just look at Jesus’ example. Healing is a holy endeavor. If you are a professional healer, you will find a lot more meaning in your career as well as in your personal life. It’s a bonus that you get to feel good about yourself at the end of the day as well.

 

Helping

If you want to honor God by helping others, then look no further than the healthcare industry. Every day your main job is to help someone else. They might have a broken bone, a fever, or something worse. But by serving others you are truly serving others and showing your worth as a fellow child of God.

 

Selflessness

There is nothing God loves more than people who sacrifice for others in an act of love. If you are a healthcare worker, you are giving your time and energy in the hopes to heal others. This is putting them before you and thus more god-like than other professions.

 

Compassion

Compassion is an important part of any life path. Looking at a Christian hospital for qualified doctors or medical assistants is something many recruiters do, because they offer another level of care for patients under them. It’s no surprise then why a career in healthcare can meet your personal needs while also serving others.

Having compassion is not easy, but it is a vital component of healthcare. You might not agree with one of your patient’s life choices or their political beliefs, but it is still your duty to serve them at the highest level. This kind of philosophy will help you when it comes to all other aspects of your life.

 

When it comes to choosing a career, you should always go for something that you truly feel you can perform well. Of course, beyond that, you need something that is fulfilling. For many people this is a career that brings you closer to God. So consider healthcare next time you are making a career choice. It could be the vehicle that changes everything for you and helps you with your faithful life.

A Note From the CEO

In celebration of our upcoming grand opening I would like to share an abridged version of the Christian Healthcare Centers’ story.

The story of Christian Healthcare Centers (CHC) began long before the current turbulence associated with Obamacare; and before there was such a thing as medical insurance. It began when Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another,” (John 13:35) and when the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistles that Christians should “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatian 6:2).

The Church has always been on the forefront of healthcare, providing care and comfort to those suffering from disease, injury or facing death. It is in the DNA of the Body of Christ to be caregivers to one another and to all in the human community. Galatians 6:10 states it succinctly; “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Christians historically have taken those words to heart, opening medical clinics and hospitals, and a host of other caregiving ministries. Christians have made substantial contributions to the hospital movement in the United States and many hospital groups still bear names such as Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, etc. It is not surprising that someone would start a ministry called Christian Healthcare Centers. It has been done before.

The CHC story adds another chapter to this impressive legacy of caregiving, and it comes at a time when Christian medical professionals and Christian patients need it most. Christian doctors want to provide the highest quality of care possible to their patients. Patients want doctors who will focus on their wellbeing, listen to them and be their advocate. Both doctors and patients want a real doctor-patient relationship.

Unfortunately, modern medical practice is hampered by unwelcome intrusions into that relationship. All too often, health insurance companies and government agencies interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, resulting in frustration for both doctors and patients. The cost of healthcare continues to climb and patients pay a larger portion of that cost, resulting in a growing number of patients not seeking timely medical care when they fall ill or have symptoms of disease.

Three years ago, I began meeting with Brian Aenis and Jeff Woo in a small group for discipleship. We studied Scripture, prayed for one another, held one another accountable to be faithful followers of Christ, good husbands and good fathers. God blessed us in the months that followed and we formed a strong bond in Christ. Along the way, we talked about healthcare since Brian and Jeff work in that field. Brian runs a healthcare office and Jeff is an internal medicine physician. They would often talk about the frustration of being pressured to see more and more patients, giving each one less and less time. As Jeff put it, “I was being pressured to practice disease care, not healthcare. This isn’t why I went to medical school.”

There came a point when I tossed out an idea that had been circulating in my mind since the 1990s following the failure of “Hillarycare.” I asked, “What do you think medical practitioners would do if there was a way for them to spend more time with patients, reduce their paperwork, reduce their office overhead expenses and provide financial security for their families? What if a doctor could see 8-12 patients a day (instead of the national average of 20-25), complete all documentation by the end of the day and be home for dinner with the family. What if patients could get in to see their doctor within 48 hours and they had as much time with the doctor as they needed? What if you could do this while eliminating intrusions from third-party payers like insurance and Medicare, and provide service at a price point that reduced the patient’s out-of-pocket costs?” Jeff’s response was, “Exactly where is this medical utopia?”

I suggested that we build it.

Christian Healthcare Centers exists to be that medical “utopia.” Our mission is to provide exceptional, comprehensive healthcare services to the Body of Christ, guided by biblical values. Our aim is to create a “one stop shop” that provides all of the services people need to maintain their health, care for acute conditions and keep them out of the emergency room and hospital. We provide care for infants to seniors.

Following our grand opening on July 5, 2017, CHC will provide primary medical care, urgent care, chiropractic services, routine labs, general x-rays, many prescription medications, family and individual counseling, and nutrition/fitness coaching. We plan to offer dental and vision services in 2018. All of our services are provided for small monthly fee without additional copays. We do not bill for insurance reimbursement. This means our doctors work for our patients, not an insurance company.

CHC is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization recognized by the IRS and  incorporated in the State of Michigan. Our clinicians are salaried employees so patients can be sure that no one will order unnecessary tests or perform unnecessary procedures to increase revenue. We are governed by a nine member Board of Directors and will undergo an annual financial audit. Our doctors are Christian, licensed practitioners with years of healthcare experience, and a passion to improve the lives of patients by delivering high quality, compassionate care.

Our vision goes beyond opening a Center in Grand Rapids. As God directs, we will open other centers throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area, West Michigan and beyond – including other states. It is an ambitious venture, but it is needed at this time in history. I hope you will partner with us to see God do great things for His glory.

Has the Standard Been Set Too Low For Healthcare?

In an ideal world everybody would have convenient, timely access and time devoted to his or her care and questions when they visit their doctors.

But There is A Problem:

The average patient waits around 24 days for a doctor appointment. In addition to this wait, that same patient usually spends 2-3 hours driving to the appointment, waiting for the doctor to enter the exam room, experiencing an 8-12 minute exam, checking out and returning home or back to work.

Considering that there were 920 million doctor office visits last year in the U.S., the lost opportunity time totals 1.84 billion hours (or 767 million 24-hour days). Of that time only 12% was used for actual doctor-patient interaction in an exam room!

In the doctor’s defense, he or she is saddled with so much bureaucratic paperwork that only 27% of a doctor’s day is spent interacting with patients. This translates into the average physician spending over two hours of paperwork for every hour of patient interaction. This paperwork, in large part, has nothing to do with patient care. (Source: Journal of General Internal Medicine)

People Don’t Want Profit-Centered Care:

It isn’t surprising that with these facts individuals and families have become increasingly less satisfied with their healthcare. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, patients most want:

  • Timely appointments
    • Not having to wait weeks to get in to see their doctor
  • Time with the doctor
    • Less time generally means lower quality of care
  • Eye contact
    • Instead of looking at a computer screen, patients want the doctor’s full attention
  • A doctor who listens to them
    • According to a Harvard study of physicians, doctors allowed the patient to speak an average of 23 seconds, and most of that was responding verbally “yes” or “no” to questions as the doctor checked boxes on a computer screen.
  • Access by telephone or virtual visit
    • Patients want to talk with their doctor without having to schedule an in-office appointment. Why don’t doctors take phone calls from patients? Because they do not receive reimbursement from insurance companies for those calls.

People Want Patient-Centered Care:

Christian Healthcare Centers’ medical model addresses each of these issues and effectively resolves them.

  • Most appointments scheduled same-day or next-day…less waiting!
  • Appointments are scheduled in 30-min and 60-min segments…more time!
  • Our doctors talk to patients when they call (What?!?! Real doctors? Yes!)
  • Our doctors are salaried so patients get the time they need and deserve.
  • Although we use technology to document office visits, our doctors know their patients and interact about much more than medical concerns. They want to know about your life, your family, your work, and your spiritual wellness.
  • In short, they place a priority on knowing each patient.

It is time to raise the standard of the Healthcare System. It truly is a New Day for Healthcare and Christian Healthcare Centers is at the forefront of the movement.

 

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Philosophy of Wellness

 

Christian Healthcare Centers provides a distinctive approach to the promotion of wellness and the provision of health care. We are an unapologetically Christian, Christ-centered and patient-focused collaborative community.

God Heals – We Help

As Creator, God is the most knowledgeable being to deal with sickness, disease and death. We affirm that God can heal with or without a physician. With this in mind, we include prayer among the resources we bring to bear on the needs of patients.

Wellness, not Disease Management

Since we believe each person is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), CHC providers are devoted to enhancing wellness of the whole person. We do not treat patients as a collection of organ systems or merely natural processes, but as whole beings.

Spiritual Care is Essential to Wellness

Spiritual health is an essential component of a person’s total wellness. Using medical interventions to compensate for immoral actions is, at best, a temporary solution. We believe spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, engagement with Scripture, active participation in a local church, applying biblical principles regarding marriage/family, finances, relationships, vocation) are essential for a person to experience their optimum overall wellness in mind, body and spirit.

Access to Health Care

As a non-profit Christian ministry, we make every effort to ensure that members have access to high-quality wellness services by controlling costs, minimizing administrative overhead and exercising good stewardship of medical resources. Our MemberCare Assistance Program is designed to help low-income individuals and families sustain their CHC membership to ensure uninterrupted and unencumbered access to our services. Ten percent of gross revenue is dedicated to our MemberCare Assistance Program.

Best Practices – Best Research – Innovative

CHC is an integrated collaborative community of Christian wellness providers. We employ or refer to physicians, chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, physical therapists, nutritionists, counselors, fitness coaches and other allied wellness professionals to ensure members have access to state of the art resources. We are committed to integrating into our wellness services the best practices and standards of care available, whether from scientific research, clinical practice, professional experience, biblical teaching or other sources of knowledge. We use the best diagnostic and treatment protocols available, and our practitioners are committed to continuing their professional development through continuing medical education, conferences, professional journals and online resources.

Communication with Members

We strive to engage in open and honest communication with our members. We will protect their personal and medical information in accord with all relevant laws and biblical ethics. We will not disclose personal or confidential medical information to any third party unless authorized by the member, under subpoena or search warrant.

Transparency and Accountability

As a Christian ministry, we strive to be transparent with members. Financial information will be provided on our website or upon demand. We engage independent certified public accountants to audit our finances and produce an annual report to members and the federal government. The Board of Directors approves compensation and ensures that funds are used exclusively to further the vision, mission and values of the ministry.