Official Statements

Operating Principles for Health-Care Institutions

"Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, [a]maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them." - Matthew 15:30

1) Christ ministered to the whole person. Following His example, the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church includes a ministry of healing to the whole person–body, mind, and spirit. The ministry of healing includes care and compassion for the sick and the suffering. It also includes the maintenance of health. Teaching the positive benefits of following the laws of health, the interrelationship of spiritual and natural laws, man’s accountability to these laws, and the grace of Christ which assures victorious living are integrated in the ministry of healing.

2) Health-care institutions (hospitals, medical/dental clinics, nursing and retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, etc.) function as an integral part of the total ministry of the Church and follow church standards including maintaining the sacredness of the Sabbath by promoting a Sabbath atmosphere for staff and patients, avoiding routine business, elective diagnostic services, and elective therapies on Sabbath. These standards also include the promotion of an ovo-lactovegetarian diet free of stimulants and alcohol and an environment free of tobacco smoke. Control of appetite shall be promoted, use of drugs with a potential for abuse shall be controlled, and techniques involving the control of one mind by another shall not be permitted. The institutions are governed as a function of the Church with activities and practices clearly identified as the unique Christian witness of Seventh-day Adventists.

3) In harmony with Christ’s reaffirmation of the dignity of man and His demonstration of love, which forgives and cares regardless of the past and maintains the right for individual choice in the future, Seventh-day Adventist health-care institutions give high priority to personal dignity and human relationships. This includes appropriate diagnosis and treatment by competent personnel; a safe, caring environment conducive to the healing of mind, body, and spirit; and education in healthful habits of living. It also includes supportive care of the patient and family through the dying process.

4) Health-care policies and medical procedures must always reflect a high regard and concern for the value of human life as well as individual dignity.

5) Seventh-day Adventist health-care institutions operate as part of the community and nation in which they function. In representing the love of Christ to these communities, the health of the community and the nation is a concern of each institution. Laws of the land are respected and the regulations for the operation of institutions and licensors of personnel are followed.

6) The Institutions welcome clergy of all creeds to visit their parishioners.

7) The mission of institutions in representing Christ to the community, and especially to those who utilize their services, is fulfilled through a compassionate, competent staff which upholds the practices and standards of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the development of the staff institutions regularly schedule classes which assist the staff in keeping up to date professionally, growing in understanding, and in sharing the love of God. Long-range staff planning supports formal education of prospective staff including utilizing an institution for clinical practice for students.

8) Institutions must operate in a financially responsible manner and in harmony with the Working Policy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

9) Primary prevention and health education shall be an integral part of the health emphasis of health-care institutions.

10) The administration and operation of individual health-care institutions shall be conducted in consultation with the Health and Temperance Department on a regular and continuing basis. Communication shall include the mission/conference, union, division, and General Conference Health and Temperance Departments as circumstances and occasion may indicate.

Establishment and Closure of Health-Care Institutions

1) When consideration is being given to the opening of a new institution, building a major addition, or evaluating the continued operation of an existing institution, consideration shall be given to:
a. The long-range plans of the Church in that area and whether the institution facilitates the mission of the Church.
b. The health-care needs of the area.
c. The available resources, especially finances, personnel, and equipment, to operate the institution.
d. Government regulations for the operation of the institution.
e. Government regulations for closing an institution.
f. The impact which the opening or closing of the institution will make on the Church in the area and on the community at large.
g. The educational needs of the Church.

This statement was released by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council session in Nairobi, Kenya, October 1988.