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May 22, 2012 | The Rt. Rev. Rayford High

Bishop High Remembers Stories from St. Luke's Hospital

Bishop High Set to Retirement
Retired Bishop Rayford High was the diocesan
liaison to St. Luke's Hospital 

When I think about St. Luke’s Hospital, I cannot do so without remembering the Rt. Rev. John E. Hines, Bishop of Texas and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He said, “We will not build just another hospital…We shall build a Church Hospital in which all the mountain-moving powers of faith and prayer and human skill can be brought to bear upon individuals in need.”


When a person is told they must go to the hospital, they feel a flood of emotions: fear or deep concern, or what will it be like, or will I be okay, or will they (the staff) treat me well, or what about my family, or is it a good hospital, or all of the above.


During my time as Canon for Pastoral Ministry and Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Texas, I have had the opportunity and privilege of being part of a number of people’s experiences at our St. Luke’s Hospital.


No Hope


“You have only a short time to live” were the dreadful words uttered by Joy’s doctor in her community. Joy is a member of one of our smaller congregations in the Diocese of Texas; and her parish priest, after hearing about Joy’s situation, reached out to St. Luke’s Hospital to get her a second opinion of her very serious condition.


St. Luke’s found her the right doctor for her chronic lung problem and her difficulty in swallowing, and she was admitted to the hospital for treatment and for her care. While in the hospital, all she could talk about to her parish priest was the good and compassionate care she received from everyone she came in contact with.


Upon her release, she continued her treatment and visits with her St. Luke’s pulmonologist on a monthly basis. Her condition and quality of life has improved. She still is a very seriously ill lady who is continually very grateful to St. Luke’s staff who offered her that “tender, loving care.”


El Salvador


My dear friend, Bishop Martin Barahona, Episcopal Diocese of El Salvador, contacted me about his nephew Javier, age 19, who was unable to hear. The family had exhausted all possible avenues in their own country to get help for him.


Through the Patient Financial Assistance Program of St. Luke’s Hospital, we were able to get him evaluated, and he was seen by one of the best ENT doctors in the country, Dr. Sam Weber. After the examination and final evaluation, through the generosity of Dr. Weber and several others, Javier received a hearing aid.


To finish the story, I want to quote from a part of a letter I received from Javier’s parents:


“In first place we want to express our faith on how God’s manifestations reveal in front of those who believe in him, our testimony is a manifestation of the power of God in our lives; it is wonderful to know how many angels are in our way, due to God’s power, opening doors, guiding us to a road where our prayers are being heard. We are extremely satisfied in the way our son, Javier Flores, was received by every person that was in charge of him. All the facilities that were given to us by this prestigious Hospital demonstrate to us the noble mission that it has every day, helping people. We want to give you our deepest gratefulness, Reverend High, for all the financial help and all the attentions that you and the Episcopal Church have given to Javier Flores, thanks to all that work, know our son has a new hearing aid that is dramatically improving his hearing problem. Thanks to all of your help he has been using the hearing aid in his left ear for almost two weeks, and he is responding extremely well, helping him with his confidence.”


The Mouse Pad


Mary is a vestry member of a good-sized parish in our diocese and was experiencing some problems with her heart. When she visited her local cardiologist, he told her she needed surgery immediately, but he did not perform this type of procedure because of its difficulty.  He recommended a doctor in Houston (not at St. Luke’s) he had trained under and could do this type of surgery.


For the next two days she thought about the surgery and the doctor in Houston that she was to call. She was not feeling very good about the situation. On the second day, she was at her computer at home and happened to glance down at her mouse pad which read, “Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.” She had been using this pad for a couple of years after she received it in a “goodie bag” when she participated in a fun run in Houston sponsored by St. Luke’s and THI. She hadn’t paid any attention to it until that point. I immediately received a call from Mary asking if I could help her get into St. Luke’s and help her find the right doctor for her complicated surgery. Within a matter of days she was in Houston seeing Dr. Joseph Coselli, a world-renowned thoracic surgeon who did this particular kind of procedure. 


Seven days later she was back in her hometown, walking a mile a day! She told me from the time she checked into St. Luke’s until she left, “every person I came in contact with was concerned about my health and was so caring during my stay…I was not anxious about my surgery; I had faith that everything would be okay.”


Ironically or by God’s grace, during her two most critical periods of time, two excellent nurses with connections to the Church cared her for. In pre-op, she was prepared for her surgery by Jennifer, a clergy spouse; and in ICU by Ann, the daughter of a clergy person.


“Everyone from the cleaning ladies to the nurses and doctors, I was cared for so well,” Mary said. “I received lots of prayers from the Chaplain’s daily visit.”


Mary truly believes that she would not be here today as a vestry member if she had not gone to St. Luke’s Hospital.


Mountain Moving Powers


In times of the greatest physical needs in our lifetime, not only do we have one of the top-ranked hospitals medically in the nation, but we also have one that offers that “tender loving care” to all who walk through its doors. Excellence in medical care is a hallmark of St. Luke’s, as well as ministry to the whole person, body, mind and spirit. In the Diocese of Texas we are so very blessed to have an institution that we call our own. The early founders of St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital must be remembered and thanked for creating a hospital “in which all the mountain-moving powers of faith and prayer and human skill can be brought to bear upon individuals in need.”