(Homelessness and addictions are often a product of systemic racism.)
“Always dealing honorably with others is part of loving mercy. Consider a conversation I overheard decades ago in the emergency department of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. A patient, Mr. Jackson, was a courteous, pleasant man who was well known to the hospital staff. He had previously been hospitalized multiple times for the treatment of alcohol-related diseases. On this occasion, Mr. Jackson returned to the hospital for symptoms that would be diagnosed as inflammation of the pancreas caused by alcohol consumption.
Toward the end of his shift, Dr. Cohen, a hardworking and admired physician, evaluated Mr. Jackson and determined that hospitalization was warranted. Dr. Cohen assigned Dr. Jones, the physician next up in rotation, to admit Mr. Jackson and oversee his treatment.
Dr. Jones had attended a prestigious medical school and was just beginning her postgraduate studies. This grueling training was often associated with sleep deprivation, which likely contributed to Dr. Jones’s negative response. Confronted with her fifth admission of the night, she complained loudly to Dr. Cohen. She felt it was unfair that she would have to spend many hours caring for Mr. Jackson, because his predicament was, after all, self-inflicted.
Dr. Cohen’s emphatic response was spoken in almost a whisper. He said, “Dr. Jones, you became a physician to care for people and work to heal them. You didn’t become a physician to judge them. If you don’t understand the difference, you have no right to train at this institution.” Following this correction, Dr. Jones diligently cared for Mr. Jackson during the hospitalization.
Mr. Jackson has since died. Both Dr. Jones and Dr. Cohen have had stellar careers. But at a critical moment in her training, Dr. Jones needed to be reminded to do justly, to love mercy, and to care for Mr. Jackson without being judgmental.”