Monday, March 24, 2008

Thoughts and Prayers for the Week of March 24, 2008

by Butch Odom

Thought & Prayer for Monday, March 24, 2008

Welcome to the season of Easter, where we will remain until May. Easter is the most important time in the Christian year, but it is also the most mysterious. Since death has been overcome, since death has lost its sting, let’s consider embracing life and spend this week contemplating the Leading Causes of LifeTM, by Gary Gunderson with Larry Pray.

The lectionary passages for this week are numerous, and include: Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18 and Matthew 28:1-10.

From John 20:1-2 – Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus’ loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they laid him.”

Leading Cause #1 - CONNECTION: As human beings we depend on our connectedness to family, friends and even coworkers. Imagine the sense of loss Jesus’ followers felt after the crucifixion. Now Mary finds the tomb empty, making her think initially that the final connection to Jesus, his grave, has been severed. Think of the significant connections in your life. Wouldn’t you agree that those connections are life-giving?

Creator God, you made us a people who thrive in healthy communities. Help us heal the disconnections in our lives so that we might live more fully. AMEN.

Thought & Prayer for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

From Acts 10:34-36 – Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ-he is Lord of all.”

Leading Cause #2 – COHERENCE: We strive for lives that have a sense of meaning and purpose. Imagine the coherence the disciples felt through their work with Jesus. Now imagine how that life-giving meaning was upset when Jesus was killed as a common criminal. Today, consider those people, those connections and those beliefs which bring the most meaning into your life.

Faithful God, for those people, those institutions, for all that brings rich, life-giving meaning into our lives, we thank you. AMEN.

Thought & Prayer for Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From Acts 10:36-38 – [Peter is still speaking.] “You know the message [God] sent the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ-he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

Leading Cause #3 – AGENCY: “Just Do It” was the slogan of or the name of an organization that encouraged young people to do good…to act…to do something for the greater good that was within their power or skill set, even of something simple like planting a tree or picking up trash. Agency entails this ability to get things done. Can you begin to see how these Leading Causes of LifeTM tie together? The greater the sense of connection in our lives and the more coherence we feel, then the greater our ability to act effectively. Also, the more we act, the more meaning we could add to our lives and the more opportunities for connection we could have.

Gracious God, it is easy for us to think globally. Give us strength to ACT locally. AMEN.

Thought & Prayer for Thursday, March 27, 2008

From Psalm 118:1-2 – O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Leading Cause #4 – BLESSING: “How are you doing today?” I asked Janice. “Fine and blessed,” was her reply. We give blessings to each other and we receive blessings from others. But blessing also occurs through the ages as we connect with our parents and their parents on through the years and with our children and our children’s children. Through blessing, we are connected to forever.

Steadfast God of the beginning, middle and end of time, stand by us in our now. Help us be a blessing to those around us, and may we be blessed today. AMEN.

Thought & Prayer for Friday, March 28, 2008

From Psalm 118:24 – This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And from Matthew 28:5-8 – But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

Leading Cause #5 – HOPE: The final of the Leading Causes of LifeTM is real, grounded hope. Such hope comes from the interaction of all the other causes discussed previously this week. How does one have hope in the midst of deep despair, for instance, if their life is not connection and coherence-filled? If one feels powerless to act and has no sense of blessing how can they experience hope? Today, take a moment to embrace that for which you hope most.

Steadfast God of hope, even in our despair, we know you are by our side. Help us be better instillers of hope in those around us. AMEN.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Clinical Improvement is Life, too

This week in a couple of our hospital leadership meetings we took a close and very encouraging look at some new work aimed at reducing the leading cause of death in our (and most everyones') facilities, sepsis. Although strokes and heart attacks are more familiar, sepsis kills more people. Sepsis, which is really blood poisoning, is one way the body shuts down naturally, so it can't be eliminated. But some sepsis is unnecessary and, if detected early can be beaten back. Indeed, in just one of our hospitals (Methodist North) we are now seeing 5 fewer sepsis deaths per month because of a carefully coordinated set of tools and practices. That's a lot of birthdays over a year.

When this was presented to managment, the story was all about the technology, which is not inappropriate because the early detection that is the key is driven by the dramatically new potentials our brand new fully eletronic medical record system have given us. When the vital signs are entered into the system (more and more this is done via monitoring devices that are directly wired into the system), the system screens for the pattern of early sepsis. Those symptoms may not be apparent to a nurse just standing next to the patient, but when that pattern is recognized by the system an email and text page is sent to the physician and response team so they can go intervene right away.

What I see is wires, but more precisely, wires allowing the leading causes of life to flourish. The whole response is highly social--its a team. And any time there are two or three in some relationship to each other, there will be life going on. In this case, the new level of connectedness, illuminates dramatic new levels of agency possible for the team. When you hear the team report on this powerful innovation, the voices vibrate with coherence -- this kind of life giving work is what they have organized their life around since they entered school. This is why they come to work and the source of their creative passion. It is the reason Dr. Joe Kettracide went into the odd and arcane stream of work known as medical information management. He's a physician who helped invent the technology of the electronic medical record and came to Methodist because he wanted to see one health system actually fulfill its promise. Those five birthdays a month ring every coherence bell in his body. But so it does for the nurses, the managers who figured out how to build the business case, the tech guy who plugged the computers together.

The word blessing pops up in this kind of conversation as something experienced not just by the patient, but by everyone involved. The successful innovation brings everyone into a living relationship in which they experience more life and deeper life.

The connection feeds the agency which resonates deeply with the coherence among the care team which creates a powerful sense of blessing. The result is a lot more life than we had going on. The new energy in the room was palpable. We were all more alive and capable of participating in more stuff like this. We found ourselves with more hope --riskable expectation-- that we had before. Methodist risked $100 million so far on these electronic tools, so that is not a small thing to think about.

Life was at work in this process, which can even flow across the wires, beepers, stainless steel and odd language of a hospital.