Health Care and Mercy

I was in Boston late last week, and tagged along with my mother while she got her cataract removed in an outpatient surgery procedure. Boston has the best medical care in the world- and we went to a Harvard teaching hospital. But what struck me most was the compassion of the nursing staff. It's not just that the patients were well-treated. I knew we were in good hands when I saw ones of the nurses quietly bring out a heating pad for a woman who had a bad back, and was waiting at least a couple of hours for a family member or friend to go through some outpatient operation or another. The woman hadn't said anything. The nurse had simply noticed the woman's pain on her own-- and did something about it. She paid attention to other people-- and their pain. That's the kind of nurse--the kind of person- you want taking care of you when you're sick.

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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