If you visited Clay County in eastern Kentucky, United States, and spent some time with its more than 20,000 residents, you’d find that it is a community of deeply resilient people with a heart for helping one another. They are the kind of people who would give the shirt off their back on any given day to someone who needs it. The reality of Clay County belies the description of a 2014 New York Times article that names Clay County as one of hardest places to live in the United States.
At AdventHealth Manchester, the only hospital serving Clay County and surrounding communities within a 30-mile (48-mile) radius, you see this play out each day. You also get a glimpse of how mission-focused the team is.
“We’re not a mission hospital,” Sissel Jacob, president and CEO for AdventHealth Manchester, said, reframing the idea that the community is a passive recipient of other people’s assistance and goodwill. “We’re a hospital on mission. Great things are happening here, and we are proud to serve our community.”
This strong and determined sense of mission has deeply permeated the hospital culture and provided a unique opportunity for its team members to live out the mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ” in different ways. Beyond providing patient care, they extend love to their community to help them thrive.
In the summer of 2022, in the aftermath of devastating floods, AdventHealth Manchester team members who suffered damage or displacement rallied together to provide food and clean water to others in the community who were also affected. During the same year, they organized many activities and extended opportunities to help the community through career expos, free fitness programs, student scholarships, home safety repairs, and paint nights to raise breast cancer awareness. In partnership with the local Seventh-day Adventist church, they also organized food distribution to vulnerable families. The team also provides free holiday meals to the community through an annual Christmas meal drive.
AdventHealth Manchester is the heartbeat of the community and is where residents go for help and support, not only medically but in other ways too. It has become a hub of organizing mission work for groups all around the United States. In fact, over the past decade, AdventHealth Manchester has grown from organizing one mission opportunity a year to 60 in a year.
In everything they do, team members live by the words of Jesus: “Love one another. As I have loved you” (John 13:34, NIV).
A Mission to Care for the Caregivers
In Henderson County, North Carolina, the 2020 State of the County Health Report listed mental health as the number-one priority based on its most recent community health assessment. Increases in suicide mortality rates, anxiety and depression in youth, and inability to get needed mental health care or counseling were outlined as some of the issues identified in the community.
AdventHealth Hendersonville, a 98-bed hospital located a few miles south of Asheville, North Carolina, has responded to this need after hearing from clergy in the community. The hospital expanded its clergy-focused support and services, including mental health and counseling services. This effort first started as part of FaithConnect, a hub for local faith communities and nonprofits. This hub is powered by the AdventHealth Mission and Ministry team, a group of trained professionals who look after the spiritual well-being of patients and team members at AdventHealth facilities.
“We formed the FaithConnect council to connect local clergy and nonprofit leaders to one another, with AdventHealth serving as the hub and the leaders leading this cause,” Jocelyn Shaw, director of mission and ministry for AdventHealth Hendersonville, said. When local clergy were asked how AdventHealth could better support them, they expressed the need for support and a safe space to talk.
This prompted the creation of mental health support services specifically dedicated for clergy. “It’s kind of like an urgent care of mental health support for clergy,” Shaw said. “We’ve given them more tools to access our resources. They have 24/7 support and can come through the [Emergency Department].”
Pastors who decide to take advantage of the mental health support services can speak with Shaw and Donna Gibbs, a licensed mental health counselor working in the community for more than two decades. Together, Shaw and Gibbs provide pastors with a safe space to talk and process their pain from the past few years with the same privacy afforded to patients.
“This is how you extend the healing ministry of Christ,” Shaw said. “You go out and meet these people, and you connect with them. I am prouder than ever to serve at AdventHealth Hendersonville.”
A Mission to Care Like Family
In the state of Georgia, Buddy Wright and his wife, LaVay, have a long-standing relationship with AdventHealth Murray. Between the two of them, they have a total of 200 hospital days. In fact, LaVay was one of the first surgical patients at the hospital when the facility initially opened. Even then, she said, the hospital provided great care, and they have continued to improve upon that great care since then.
“AdventHealth Murray is one of the best hospitals around, and our first choice for the best of care,” LaVay said. “We love the Murray staff and appreciate how they always go the extra mile.”
The Wrights, both close to 90 years of age, have a love and passion for their community and deep pride in the hospital. They continue to stay involved with community events hosted by AdventHealth Murray, and team members at the hospital care for them like their own family. This culture of whole-person care provided to the Wrights is extended to each person in the hospital and in the community.
A Mission to Build Strength from Unity
“I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One — I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me,” Jesus said, according to John 17:22, 23 (NIV).
Early in His ministry, Jesus spoke on the importance of coming together for a greater purpose. Healing the sick and bringing hope to a world in need would require much effort. Knowing this, He prayed that His disciples would be unified, so that His love and healing words would draw others to Him.
Five decades ago, leaders from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, along with hospital executives throughout the region, were inspired to unite individual hospitals to strengthen the impact of mission in their communities.
Leaders gathered in the assembly room on February 15, 1973, of what was then Florida Hospital in Orlando (now AdventHealth Orlando) and created a new corporation: Southern Adventist Health and Hospital Systems, Inc. The new system, which included hospitals that had already been present in various communities throughout the Southern Union territory for decades, would continue the rich legacy of health and healing that started with the pioneers of the Adventist Church. No longer nine separate entities, the unified group would seek to touch more lives and extend care more effectively in the future.
Half a century later, this strategic vision has been realized through the tremendous work carried out in more than 50 hospitals and hundreds of primary-care facilities throughout the AdventHealth system. Each hospital, driven by the mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ,” continues to push forward to find new and innovative ways to care for its communities.
Today, AdventHealth serves more than 6.7 million patients each year in nine U.S. states — Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, and Kansas — as well as international health partnerships in 13 countries to date. Over the decades, its humble beginnings gave way to a team of more than 80,000 dedicated individuals providing Christ-like, compassionate, whole-person care each day. While much has changed in five decades, AdventHealth’s mission remains focused on extending the healing ministry of Christ, a key element of what makes AdventHealth unique.
Driven by its mission, AdventHealth continues to leave a legacy of high-quality, whole-person care that is recognized by patients, families, and external organizations alike. Recently, AdventHealth was recognized by national hospital rating agencies for its high-quality care. The Emerald Award, given by The Leapfrog Group to just one organization in the U.S., recognized AdventHealth for Outstanding Achievement by a Health Care System. In addition, U.S. News and World Report ranked AdventHealth facilities across the country as some of the best in their respective communities.
What started as a dream half a century ago to create healthier communities has become a unifying force for good, bringing hope and Christ-centered care to millions of people. Today, AdventHealth remains focused on serving communities through excellent care, addressing their needs, and bringing whole-person healing to people.
Staying United on Mission
AdventHealth’s mission, and the work it takes to carry it out, is at the heart of the organization — each day and in every interaction. This mission, fueled by love, care, and compassion, is lived out through team members who look at the organization’s mission and say, “Yes, this is what I want to do every day.”
Team members of AdventHealth demonstrate the organization’s heartbeat through their actions each day, going beyond medical needs, and truly providing whole-person care so that everyone, whether a team member, a client, a patient, or a member of the community, feels whole.
The original version of this release was posted by Southern Tidings.