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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 5, 2016: Nuns continue to influence healthcare *Del Rio News-Herald * OPINION * Letter to the Editor * Nuns continue to influence healthcare

Letter to the Editor,

Nuns continue to influence US healthcare

The Supreme Court made a unanimous decision in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

This case challenged the Affordable Care Act’s Health and Human Services mandate from requiring religiously affiliated non-profit groups, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, who object to having to provide “abortifacients and contraceptives” to their employees.

The fact that a group of nuns went all the way to the Supreme Court over an issue involving healthcare demonstrates how much of our healthcare system we continue to owe to Catholic Sisters!

Catholic nuns in the U. S. have been rightly called the first feminists. In the 19th century in a country and culture where most women followed the orders of a father or husband, these women were planning, building and providing employment in over eight hundred hospitals and ten thousand schools, colleges and universities.

In 1871, St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri founded by The Mercy Sisters worked with the United Railways Company to develop the first prepaid health insurance plan in the U.S.

In 1895 the Sisters of St. Francis of Our Lady of Lourdes collaborated with Dr. Mayo to build the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

In the 1930’s, Dr. Bob Smith and Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin began treating alcoholism as a medical diagnosis and she is referred to as the “Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous”.

Catholic sisters pioneered “family-centered” and “holistic” care in their nursing schools. They taught the importance of reaching out to the family of the patient but “out of earshot of the patient” and to get to know their patient’s background; where the patient was from and how many children they had so that they could talk to them more personally. It seems that they were “ahead” of their time in American nursing with their emphasis on getting to know the patient on a “holistic” level and not just as someone enduring a physical ailment.

We continue to owe a debt of gratitude to Catholic sisters for their accomplishments as trailblazers in healthcare.

Thank you Sisters!
Marian Casillas, Ed.D.