One Hospital System's Role to Advance Human Rights


Because we have 31,000 employees in Baylor Scott and White Health, our "community service" extends to all continents and addresses needs in hundreds of languages, Sewell writes.

Baylor Health Care System, now Baylor Scott and White Health (BSWH), addresses local and international human rights issues as part of our corporate responsibility.

CEO Joel Allison and our senior executive leadership team led the creation of Faith in Action Initiatives (FIAI) for this very purpose four years ago.

Courage and foresight are required for any hospital system to decide to give away assets.

Of course, many share their unneeded resources in somewhat random ways, but BSWH's efforts now include a coordinated Faith in Action program with a 30,000-square-foot "Second Life Resources" warehouse.

Through this medical wellspring, more than 70 free access clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area avail themselves to the free supplies.

On Sept. 26, Baylor's FIAI addressed the Syrian refugee crisis by sending a 40-foot shipping container of supplies to Beirut, Lebanon.

The load included 14 pallets of gauze, needles, syringes, surgical packs, gowns, orthopedics dressings, exam tables, stretchers and small surgical lights.

We entrusted these gifts to Lebanese Baptists for the medical needs of thousands of Syrian refugees. We knew this Middle Eastern part of the "Baptist family" through connections in the Baptist World Alliance.

Baylor's Faith in Action addresses human rights issues by collaborating with other mission agencies to send medical supplies internationally, including:

  1. Resourcing South Sudan through "Water is Basic" with a cargo load of supplies
  2. Assisting "Hands of Love Missions" for women's health exams in Moscow
  3. Working with Immanuel World Outreach Missions to send containers of medical supplies to help various Nigerian hospitals in desperate need

We seek to empower our employees to deal with human rights. Our doctors and nurses volunteering for international medical missions know they can drop by the warehouse to fill up their checked bags with medical supplies.

We offer $1,000 scholarships to nurses and therapists to defray some costs of their mission trips, and nurses can access full FIAI scholarships to serve on the Africa Mercy Ship.

Faith in Action Initiatives expresses Baylor's passion for human rights through our disaster relief efforts.

After the calamities in Haiti; Joplin, Mo.; Tokyo; Moore, Okla.; and West, Texas, FIAI coordinated employee efforts to collect homemade hygiene kits in 2-gallon plastic bags.

With this month's collection of kits going for the Philippines, we will crest the mark of 3,000 employee-produced hygiene kits for disaster needs.

Our small efforts make us aware of the enormity of human rights concerns. We must redouble our efforts to meet the spirit of The Baylor Mission: "Founded as a Christian ministry of healing, we exist to serve all people through exemplary health care, education, research and community service."

Because we have 31,000 employees in Baylor Scott and White Health, our "community service" extends to all continents and addresses needs in hundreds of languages.

Human rights issues hit home for Baylor registered nurse Scott Temple, who served a month this past summer in Sierra Leone on the Africa Mercy Ship. Scott enjoyed one free day per week.

"Along this river as we were passing one boat, a mother called out in French asking us to take her child. Our boats did not stop and passed the vessel," Temple recalled.

"It was no more than a 10-second encounter; however it was one of profound emotion and distress. What led this mom to attempt to give up her child to non-native people? What led her to give up all hope, thinking the future of her child would be better served in the care of strangers?"

"Obviously, we would not be able to take this child into our custody," Temple continued. "Soon the boat floated down the river and was out of sight. In one single minute, an event happened where we had no ability to control or physically intervene. Instantly, many on the boat became silent and prayer surrounded us."

Scott joins a great crowd of witnesses who are learning about key facets of human rights. His worldview is enriched and his passion for nursing is deepened as he serves here in Dallas.

As Faith in Action begins to share cups of cold water, we grasp indescribable levels of need. We can and should do more. We surely haven't "arrived."

Financial pressures in upcoming years will test our resolve to continue such philanthropic efforts that are rooted in Baylor's value system. Our passion for human rights will be further tested.

While we are constrained to check the bottom line, we also resonate with a call "coming o'er the restless waves."

Baylor's office of Faith in Action Initiatives is humbled to work alongside others in the noble cause of human rights.

We encourage other hospitals to join us in embracing our Lord's unparalleled value system found in Matthew 25:35-40; the BWA-sponsored Human Rights Day weekend on Dec. 7-8 could provide an initial opportunity to do so.

Don Sewell, a former seminary professor and missions administrator, is director of Faith in Action Initiatives at Baylor Scott and White Health.

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Tags: Baylor Scott and White Health, Don Sewell, Faith in Action Initiatives, Human Rights


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