Providence Health & Services: Oral testimony Senate Bill 494

Sister Lynda Thompson, March 23, 2017

Good morning, Chair Prozanski and members of the {OREGON LEGISLATURE}committee – for the record my name is Sister Lynda Thompson – thank you for the opportunity to speak about the importance of Senate Bill 494.

I’m a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and currently serve as the director of Mission integration at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. I have worked in the ministry of Catholic Health Care for over 25 years and appreciate its witness to patient centered, compassion care for patients and families at every stage of their life journey. I have had the privilege during these many years of sitting with families, married couples, parents and children in a variety of settings – Parish halls, living rooms, hospital gathering areas— to facilitate and witness those powerful and grace filled conversations that all of us will, hopefully, someday have – considering how we will choose to live our later years and final days with the greatest possible peace, comfort and support.

I’ve used the existing Advance Directive as a tool to guide these conversations – to help families and loved ones really talk to each other about what deeply matters to them. The Form could often prove confusing and difficult to navigate.

As a Catholic health care ministry established in the Northwest over 160 years ago, Providence Health & Services’ Mission, to reveal God’s love for all through our compassionate service, is rooted in the arts and science of medicine, centuries old Catholic tradition and practices of care for the dying, and a profound commitment to walking one another through this journey of life as a community. This Mission speaks to the importance of embracing those who are suffering and honoring the dignity of every person.

Every day, at Providence, we commit ourselves to practice those caring behaviors that nurture the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of those we serve. This is never more important than when patients become most vulnerable ,are unable to express their wishes, and health care representatives and family are faced with impending grief and loss, while struggling to make extremely difficult decisions. An earlier conversation resulting in an Advance Directive to guide medical treatment based on a patient’s wishes is truly a God send at this time. I have seen it so often ease the anxiety and stress—I’ve heard, as perhaps you have as well, “ We know what mom wanted”

At these times I’m reminded that, like an iceberg, nine-tenths of who we are is below the surface – made up of those often unspoken and unconscious values that shape each of us and provide the richness of our personal story. A story, a narrative, we must be encouraged to reflect on and tell often to those who care for us and about us.

Oregon’s current, binary checklist Advance Directive form, however, does not encourage this full personal reflection or discussion with loved ones – a component that U.S. Catholic bishops recognize, noting in their pastoral message, the Blessings of Age that “You may worry about being unable to communicate your desires regarding such serious matters as life support systems. Advance directives can help your loved ones know your wishes.”

To that end Senate Bill 494 does two important things:

Ensures a clear, concise process for appointment of a health care representative; and
Provides a thoughtful framework for a more inclusive form that, in addition to a checklist of medical interventions, will promote and encourage discussion about how an individual wishes to be treated and cared for when they become seriously ill.

Catholic teaching recognizes that death is an inevitable part of life, but, as best we can, it need not be a lonely or terrifying event. We believe , from within our experience as a Catholic health care ministry, that an individual’s health care preferences and desires and wishes are most likely to be carried out when they are captured in an Advance Directive that is the finest and most effective tool we can offer them.

{What does all the above mean? It can mean simply that “if we can help them end their life we will be happy to do all we can to cooperate with them in having their wishes fulfilled” !!!
BEWARE of signing an medical form that contains boxes to be checked. Why? Because ANYONE including a doctor, a nurse, a janitor who has access to the form, can check a box that may give the hospital the right to terminate your life !!! – Abyssum}

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sister Anne Sophie says:

    YOU are right Bishop Gracida! BEWARE!!! 

    God’s Blessings Upon You! Sister AnneSophie“Love God, serve God; everything is in that.”  ~St. Clare of Assisi

    From: ABYSSUS ABYSSUM INVOCAT / DEEP CALLS TO DEEP To: savesoul@att.net Sent: Monday, April 24, 2017 2:21 PM Subject: [New post] OREGON, CALIFORNIA AND WASHINGTON STATE ARE PROBABLY THE MOST PRO-DEATH STATES IN THE UNION #yiv3663320024 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3663320024 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3663320024 a.yiv3663320024primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3663320024 a.yiv3663320024primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3663320024 a.yiv3663320024primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3663320024 a.yiv3663320024primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3663320024 WordPress.com | abyssum posted: “Providence Health & Services: Oral testimony Senate Bill 494Sister Lynda Thompson, March 23, 2017Good morning, Chair Prozanski and members of the {OREGON LEGISLATURE}committee – for the record my name is Sister Lynda Thompson – thank” | |

Comments are closed.