FEATURE | Be Like Christ, Heal the People and the Planet

The Journey of a Paulinian Nun and an Environmental Health Warrior

“Being a healthcare practitioner, I participate in Christ’s healing mission by providing holistic care considering all aspects of human existence: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and even assessing its surrounding environment.” says Sr. Arcelita Sarnillo, SPC Hospital Administrator of St. Paul Hospital Cavite in the Philippines and a longtime advocate of Mother Earth.

When asked how she became a nun working in the healthcare sector, she excitedly shares that even in childhood, it is her dream to help those who are unwell and marginalized. That is why she took up nursing and after working for two years  with the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres  (SPC) in Perpetual Succour Hospital, Cebu City , became  a Paulinian Nun. Sister Arce (as we fondly call her) adds, “I find fulfillment in being able to take care of the sick and restore them to good health.”

Sister Arce has been a strong Climate-smart and Green healthcare advocate for more than 10 years already. She is especially involved in coming up with sustainable ways of managing healthcare waste in her own hospital as well as encouraging other health systems in Asia to transition to renewable energy in order to decrease the sector’s carbon footprint and provide a healthier environment both for the patients and the communities.

“Mother Earth is in deep critical condition and is already in the ICU; as her children, we must work together to save her. And we need to act NOW.” she points out.

“Environmental concern is a very significant issue in the healthcare sector. We should not only pay attention to healing the sick merely through medicines and antibiotics but like Florence Nightingale, who believed that the environment has a strong influence on patient outcomes, we must also pay attention to the patient’s surroundings.” Sister Arce, repeatedly emphasizes.

Sister Arcelita has been a strong partner of Health Care Without Harm Asia not only as a member of its Advisory Council but more so as a #ChooseHealthyEnergy Ambassador, a Champion of Sustainable Healthcare Waste Management and in bringing about a Climate-smart and Green Healthcare.###