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Holy Spirit Hospital’s “religious” organizational culture March 27, 2007

Posted by Lady in civil society, Consumers, Customer Service, Employees, Organizational Culture, religious organizations.

So I happened to go home this weekend (Harrisburg) and found my idea for this week’s blog in the local newspaper, The Patriot News. The article was titled,Better bedside MANNER: Holy Spirit Hospital aims to cure ill will” and showed that since December, Holy Spirit Hospital has been sending walk-in patients directly to a bed instead of having them sit in the waiting area on those terribly uncomfortable benches. This is the first hospital that I have ever known to have such a generous policy. Personally, I am pleased with such a policy. I chose this article because a couple of weeks ago I read Holy Spirit’s mission and vision statement which is as follows:

Our Mission

Holy Spirit Health System is a community Catholic health system sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to all in need. We provide high quality, cost-effective health services to develop healthy communities in the greater
Harrisburg area and South Central Pennsylvania.

Our Vision

Holy Spirit Health system will exemplify God’s love through our service and Spirit of Caring.

Over the next three years, we will focus on achieving exemplary performance in service to our community, including:

  • Superior clinical outcomes.
  • Outstanding customer satisfaction.
  • Strong financial results.

So after taking a look at Holy Spirit Hospital as an organization, it led me to ponder some questions about their organizational culture. For starters, I wonder if their policy of sending patients straight to a hospital bed has to do with the religious culture that they seem to have instilled in their organization. Or might the policy just be in response to gaining a competitive advantage? Cheri Rinehart of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said that it is uncommon practice to send patients directly to a bed, but that there is a trend of “looking at patient satisfaction and what the major dissatisfiers are”.

So is it culture or competition that most led Holy Spirit Hospital to act in this manner and treat their customers in this special way? In my opinion, I think that it is naturally part of Holy Spirit Hospital’s culture to act in this way. I honestly think that the culture of their organization is one that is filled with the “Holy Spirit” literally and this drives them to go beyond the call of duty for their patients. Now, I have never really been a patient there but I wonder what it would be like to be one of their patients. Being a Christian myself and having such a strong faith in God, I can imagine the type of organizational culture that Holy Spirit Hospital may have. Can you?

In general, do you think that an organization that has a highly religious climate can affect their organizational culture? Does that particular religion then define the culture of the organization? How might a religious culture be bad for an organization? How might it be bad for individual employees or patients?



1. Stephanie - March 28, 2007

Luckily I am not a frequent visitor of the hospital, but the one time I was a patient in the ER, I felt very nervous and anxious about the process. It seems that Holy Spirit Hospital is trying to easy these worries with their waiting in a bed strategy. I wonder though, if the religious affiliation would only add to making some people feel uncomfortable. If a religious rather than spiritual emphasis is ingrained in hospital employees, some people of different faiths may feel ostracized. It seems that a lot of younger Americans are less religious than their parents. It would be interesting to compare the opinions between different generations and their reactions to hospitals or other organizations which are religious. I know of several students who did not want to go to particular schools, like Villanova, because of their religious affiliation.

bobbo b - January 21, 2011

A person who is secure about their religion shouldn’t have a problem with being treated by someone wo believes in another religion. As a Fellow Villanovan, many faiths and beliefs at the campus are tolerated and celebrated through student organizations. I participated in ramadan from start to finish though it is not my religious belief to do so. It felt great and opened my eyes to another religious custom. I still remain a Catholic and I disagree with people who use religion as an excuse to refuse treatment or as an excuse to file suit on professionals who obviously care for their patients. As a health professional, I am aware of many customs and religions. Do remember that Christianity is number one in the USA as far as believers. Is it that bad that Christians run many hosptitals out of charity and love? As a patient, you have a right to refuse treatment for any reason. Just know that intolerance for a religion comes from the patient’s choice, as health professionals espect the wishes of all of their patients concerning religion.

2. Brian Mulligan - April 1, 2007

For me, religion has played a large role in my life, mainly because of my parents, but I think that any organization that is religiously affiliated has a different culture. Especially in the health care industry, spirituality plays a large role in how people think and act. I think different religions don’t have different affects, but being religiously affiliated makes the difference. Whenever I have been to a hospital with a loved one, I’ve always relied on religion to help me through those tough periods. I think that it may translate into the way the employees treat their patients and how they go about their jobs. Personally, I’ve been in the ER numerous times either for myself or somebody else and it’s extremely frustrating to have to sit for hours on end for a doctor. Even giving a room for the person with a bed, it just going the extra mile for the patients.

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