In the heart of the Adventist HealthCare Mission Statement is a commitment to improve the health of “people and communities.” It is a phrase that I’ve come to regard as critical to our mission and success. The first word—people—is pretty obvious. People are what we are all about. The health of individuals—whether they are old or young, male or female, or any of those myriad other ways we use to describe one another—is our core task and our calling. But I don’t think we’d be truly doing our job if the phrase didn’t say people AND communities. Because, ultimately, it is community that makes us who we are.
The most obvious kind of community is a shared location. We live here. We work here. We raise our families, live our lives, and cherish the memories created in this specific place. The communities of Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Frederick counties in Maryland, and Warren, Morris and Sussex counties in New Jersey, are more than zip codes or places on a map. These places are home. That is perhaps the most basic meaning of community.
But community is not interchangeable with locality. Community can also mean a group of people who value other characteristics that they share. Cultural, ethnic, and religious qualities come into play. As a faith-based organization, the relationships we have with various faith communities are important to us: people of all faiths are welcomed and treated equally in our facilities, and we do everything we can to make sure that cultural customs and religious beliefs are honored and facilitated.
Because we strive to be effective in providing healthcare to everyone within our locality, we become vitally interested in the communities differentiated by language or nationality. We are enriched and blessed by the different languages and cultures that are represented in our Adventist HealthCare team. This is vital to our ability to serve the diverse population of our geographical community.
There is (at least) one more kind of community that is vital to our work. Perhaps we can call it the community of “shared significant history.” When the home team wins, we share it. When there is a crisis in the world, we share it. When the weather turns deadly or a tragedy unfolds, we share it. When spring finally shows up and the potholes threaten to take over the streets, we share it. When summer rolls around and thousands of tourists descend on our region, we share it. When elections are imminent and the contests dominate the airwaves, we share it.
In the best times and the worst, we are proud to be a part of this community. We take as our calling to improve the health of the people and communities that we are blessed to serve. And our goal is to pursue this calling better every single day.