CHA to convene ministry in Atlanta summit on international aid

April 15, 2011

Post-assembly gathering will describe ways to achieve maximum impact in disaster relief, supply donation

Catholic health care providers throughout the U.S. are saying they want to do more to aid vulnerable people overseas, and they're eager to learn how best to do this.

At a June summit that CHA is hosting in Atlanta, a panel of international aid experts will share their insights about how U.S. organizations can respond effectively to the needs of people in developing countries. And they'll explain how the Catholic health ministry can be part of this response.

"There's great enthusiasm around the ministry now about international outreach," said Bruce Compton, CHA senior director of international outreach. "This summit will provide an opportunity for the ministry to harness that enthusiasm and learn how we can play a vital role in international aid."

The summit, which is called "Opportunity Now: How International Outreach Can Advance the Healing Mission," will take place June 7-8 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. It will begin immediately after the Catholic Health Assembly.

CHA has invited Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza, papal nuncio for Haiti, to open the gathering by laying the theological foundation for the summit. He will describe the church's call to heal the vulnerable around the world.

Speakers Dr. Clare Helminiak and William Canny will describe disaster response efforts overseas and how the ministry can support such efforts. Helminiak is a rear admiral with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and an assistant to the Surgeon General; and Canny is director of emergency operations with Catholic Relief Services.

Also at the summit, Dr. Patricia Simone, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Global Health, will explain how ministry facilities can help to strengthen global health systems. She will draw upon principles put forth by the World Health Organization and incorporated in the work of the CDC and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Summit attendees also will hear from ministry leaders involved in international outreach, including Susan Nestor Levy, chief advocacy officer of St. Louis-based Ascension Health and executive director of that system's Seton Institute; Pamela Hearn, executive director of the Foundation for International Health at San Francisco's Catholic Healthcare West; Mark Koenig, system director of Providence Health International, part of Providence Health & Services of Renton, Wash.; Richard Statuto, president and chief executive of Bon Secours Health System of Marriottsville, Md.; Peter Maddox, senior vice president of business, strategy and corporate development for CHRISTUS Health of Irving, Texas; and Jeff Jordan, senior vice president for programs for the Catholic Medical Mission Board.

Nestor Levy and Hearn will describe their organizations' efforts to address neglected tropical diseases, water sanitation and health concerns in Guatemala. Koenig will give a firsthand account of what it's like to volunteer for overseas mission work. And, Statuto, Maddox and Jordan will explain how their organizations are addressing childhood morbidity and mortality concerns in Peru.

Summit participants also will take a field trip to an Atlanta-area medical surplus recovery organization that processes supply donations from U.S. health facilities for overseas recipients.

Compton said the summit comes at a time when the dynamics of international aid are changing. In the past, ministry hospitals often made decisions about how and where to provide aid based on the international work of their sponsoring congregations. While their sponsors' focus may still impact their aid decisions, many ministry organizations now are reassessing how they help people overseas.

A survey CHA recently completed on international aid indicated that the ministry already is involved in global outreach efforts, but it is interested in doing more. Ministry leaders said in the survey that they want to make sure they provide aid as effectively as possible and ensure that the resources they send overseas do not go to waste.

"The survey showed that for ministry leaders, it's all about achieving the most impact for their efforts," Compton said. "The summit will help people understand how to do this."

Compton said the summit is for ministry executives, mission leaders, sponsors, supply chain executives and people interested in international volunteerism. "Everyone who thinks they should be helping in places hit by disaster, like Japan and Haiti, and those who have been thinking about mission work overseas, will want to attend," Compton said.

Additional CHA resources

More information on global aid, including:

An overview on CHA's involvement

Results of CHA's study on supply donation

A schedule for quarterly calls CHA is hosting for international aid experts in the ministry

Theological resources


> Also see "Ministry champions campaign to rebuild Catholic health care in Haiti"


Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.