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October 2002

Conference Highlights Innovations
Throughout Catholic Health Initiatives


In an address to September’s National Leadership Conference, Patricia A. Cahill, Esq., president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives, focused on innovation. She noted that the brief history of Catholic Health Initiatives is filled with examples of innovation, including the unique sponsorship model that is the foundation of the organization’s creative spirit. She also offered the following examples – some widely known and some not – of innovations that that have been important to the organization: Capital Obligation Document - "In 1997, the Board of Stewardship Trustees approved a Capital Obligation Document that established Catholic Health Initiatives as the only borrower for debt within the organization. This enabled three promises to the market-based organizations: easier access to capital; simpler debt management; and lower interest rates." Improving Care at the End of Life - "Improving Care at the End of Life, an American Hospital Association award-winning program at Franciscan Health System in Tacoma, has made end-of-life care a true community collaboration. The program connects patients with the community resources they need – from home-delivered meals to spiritual care – allowing them to make dignified transitions in the last stages of their lives." Social Responsibility Investment Policy - "There are things we can’t control, such as the behavior of multinational corporations. However, we have found innovative ways to influence what we can’t control. Our Social Responsibility Investment Policy excludes investments in companies linked to abortion or to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. We have filed shareholder resolutions with pharmaceutical firms and tobacco companies. We channel two percent of operating investment program assets into low- or no-interest loans to not-for-profit organizations that provide access to jobs, housing, education and health care." The Wisdom of Seniors - "Some of the seniors who live at Riverview Place in Fargo, N.D., have become mentors to New Americans from Somalia, Bosnia and other countries. These seniors bring their considerable life experience to bear as they help immigrant people learn workplace skills as essential as English and as practical as ordering lunch." Mission and Ministry Fund - "The year that Catholic Health Initiatives was created, we established the Mission and Ministry Fund to encourage innovative ideas for building healthy communities. To date, we have awarded more than $9 million through 102 grants to 73 organizations." Non-institutional Ministries - "Changing market forces have made it necessary for us to transfer or sell some hospitals and long-term care facilities. These separations are painful, but often present new opportunities. We try to assure that the separation of a facility from Catholic Health Initiatives does not leave a community without a Catholic health ministry. In Lancaster, Pa., the sale of St. Joseph Hospital led to our first non-institutional organization, St. Joseph Health Ministries. We are creating the same type of ministry in Albuquerque to continue the Catholic health presence after the sale of St. Joseph Healthcare System." Board Relationships - "In 1998, we asked market-based board members to tell us what we could do to improve relationships with their boards. They suggested the development of board education and evaluation materials; orientation sessions; and quarterly telephone conferences with senior management. This work has paid off enormously well and I thank the market-based board members who were so candid with us in 1998." Creation of Consorta - "Catholic Health Initiatives was a primary mover in the creation of Consorta, a group purchasing organization that delivers substantial savings through our supply chain and works closely with us on environmental social responsibility." Leadership Development Program - "Our Leadership Development Program grounds our leaders in the heritage, history, mission and values of the organization while adding to the skills they need to steer a future course." Beginning-of-Life Care - "The neonatal intensive care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a womb-like environment for babies who need special care. The lighting, fixtures and furnishings make the NICU a high-touch environment in which caregivers make physical and emotional connections with tiny patients and their families." Integrative Health Model - "Reaffirming our commitment to the healing of the body, mind, and spirit, Catholic Health Initiatives developed a philosophy and model for integrative health care that combines the best of traditional scientific and holistic approaches to patient care." Spirituality - "Among our many commitments to spirituality is an archive of sacred stories authored by physicians, board members, managers, staff members and volunteers throughout Catholic Health Initiatives. These stories continue the legacy of the women religious who preceded us and describe how the internal faith we all bring to work enhances our care delivery." Ethics Associate Program - "Our Ethics Associate Program, a year-long training effort, has prepared dozens of market-based leaders to serve as ethics consultants within their own organizations." Recognition of Best Practices - "A book to be published next year by the American College of Hospital Executives – ‘Thinking Forward: Transforming Health Care in the 21st Century’ – will present case studies of best practices from six of our market-based organizations." Strategic Financial Planning Process and Capital Allocation - "Our financial planning process has allowed us to support our strategic needs by aligning and maximizing our collective capital capacity. It has promoted our interdependence without major bloodletting. That's a miracle!" Balanced Scorecard - "The Balanced Scorecard is an evolving set of more than 20 key measures that will show how Catholic Health Initiatives is moving toward its vision, accomplishing its mission and implementing its strategies." Reaching Out in New Ways - "Saint Francis Medical Center in Grand Island, Neb., is reaching out to the growing Spanish-speaking population in its service area by printing its consumer publication in both English and Spanish." Core Values Assessment - "Equally important to what we do is how we do it. We have developed a more mature mission assessment instrument for a more mature organization – the Core Values Assessment, which will begin in 2003." Macbeth Program - "Our Macbeth Program (Management Assistance Clinic Break Even Team) has helped hospital-owned physician practices reduce their losses from a system-wide high of $125 million during the 1998 fiscal year to $50 million during the 2002 fiscal year." Nurse Mentoring Program - "In Lincoln, Neb., Saint Elizabeth has reduced nurse turnover from 33 percent to less than nine percent with its Building Bridges Program. Each newly hired nurse is assigned to a preceptor, who serves as a clinical guide, and a mentor — not necessarily a nurse — who helps the nurse build healthy relationships within the organization." School-based Clinics - "St. Anthony Hospital in Denver supports school-based clinics that bring health care, disease management, mental health and chemical abuse counseling services directly to students at two inner-city schools and serve 85 percent of each student population." National Quality Health Care Award - "In 2001, Catholic Health Initiatives was the first national system to receive the National Quality Health Care Award, which recognizes our efforts to build an infrastructure that will improve health care quality and support healthy communities." Institute for Healthcare Improvement - "Catholic Health Initiatives has joined the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s IMPACT program, a network of more than 60 health care organizations committed to making and sharing breakthrough improvements in clinical quality." Many More Examples - "And, I could go on and on:
  • CHAN, the Catholic Health Care Audit Network, helps us assure the integrity of our operational and financial practices;
  • FIIL, First Initiatives Insurance Ltd., has kept our premium costs stable in a staggering insurance industry environment;
  • Clinical engineering has improved service and reduced costs with centralized management;
  • More than 200 Catholic Health Initiatives executives have enhanced their communications skills with executive media training;
  • Our National Pharmacy Program has delivered more than $17 million in savings in two years; and
  • The Nurse Reinvestment Act, signed into law in August by President Bush, includes the Catholic Health Initiatives concept of nurse retention grants.
"I am enormously proud of the creativity you have demonstrated in our early life as an organization. I applaud your success and call you to its continuation. We can be sure that, as we implement our new five-year strategic plan, other challenges will present themselves."
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