Published on September 3, 2020
I hope to leave as a legacy a model of care for people with life-limiting illnesses that appreciates the uniqueness of each person and cares for them with feeling and discernment. When it began, I wanted Alive to be a model of this type of care.
Humanism tends to move toward reductionism in medical education and practice. The appreciation of uniqueness, the perception of someone who is one-of-a kind, has a tendency to fade away and be replaced by a sense of categorical sameness. A kind of distance between the medical caregiver and his or her patient occurs, and care is compromised. This should not happen, especially in caring for patients and their families in the context of life-threatening illness. If it happens, the soul of care, feelings for a patient’s individual kind of distress or need, is lost.
To truly care, we must maintain our relatedness in a way that allows us to be able to perceive unique needs; we must continue to see the differences in each person our life touches while experiencing them as being whole. We must be approximated with the patient, maintaining a need-discerning relationship, and meeting the needs of a patient to the extent possible. I am proud that this kind of care continues to happen at Alive.
– David Barton, MD, Alive Founder