Ascension awards grants from Ministry and Mission Fund

February 1, 2016

Ascension's President and Chief Executive Anthony Tersigni and his wife, Flora Tersigni, have donated more than $2.5 million to the Ascension Ministry and Mission Fund to support the development and education of Ascension employees. The fund is innovative because, rather than provide education for existing positions, it provides money to prepare current employees for new roles and models of care in the rapidly evolving health care environment, which is a commitment to the health system's employees, explained Sr. Maureen McGuire, DC, Ascension's executive vice president for mission integration.

The fund allows employees to "build upon their gifts" by training for new roles at a time when Ascension's health ministry leaders are creating models of care with greater emphasis on population health, preventive care, seeing patients in a variety of care settings and new approaches to care, such as the use of telehealth technologies for virtual care, Sr. McGuire said.


For instance, Ministry and Mission funds might be used to train employees in telehealth technology, to train health care navigators, or prepare spiritual care providers to work with palliative care and hospice care providers as part of an interdisciplinary team at an outpatient clinic, she explained. The grants are made for the delivery of programs for groups of employees, not to individuals, she said.

The Tersigni family established the fund in 2014. Other Ascension employees from senior-level executives to frontline associates have donated to the fund.

Sr. McGuire said there's been a terrific response of appreciation at Ascension for the fund and the generosity of those who have contributed. To engage everyone, it was an open invitation for employees at any level to contribute any amount. "It's a commitment to one another," she said.

Sr. McGuire said a board made up of Ascension leaders in mission integration, human resources, finance and legal departments reviewed funding requests and authorized the initial round of funding with $1.59 million committed to seven programs. She said an Ascension ministry can apply for Ministry and Mission funds at any time.

The first programs approved for funding include:

• In Wisconsin, retaining "dedicated, high-performing" employees by preparing them through retraining for new care models and settings as inpatient care transitions to other settings across the continuum of care, according to information from Ascension about the program.

• In Kansas, education of employees includes internships and certification programs for new roles related to population health, such as health care navigators and health coaches.

• Pharmacy technicians in Michigan will receive training related to taking a patient's complete medication and allergy history and educating patients about medication management, with the aim of helping patients reduce medication errors and related readmissions. Also in Michigan, nurse assistants and technicians will be trained on new methods of post-discharge follow-up, calling patients after an emergency department or inpatient treatment to ensure safe care transitions, reduce readmissions and improve patient experience.

Sr. McGuire said Ascension ministries in Wichita, Kan., Baltimore and on the Gulf Coast received grants for spiritual care. In one approach, interdisciplinary teams at outpatient clinics will integrate palliative care and hospice care with spiritual care. Five Ascension employees will take part in coordinator training for Stephen Ministry or BeFriender Ministry programs. The coordinators then will train and supervise volunteers who augment the work of chaplains by offering a "listening presence" at care sites, she said. Another grant will focus on developing chaplains to counsel patients outside of acute care settings.

Each project will be developed and administered locally. Project coordinators will connect with others across Ascension who are engaged in similar efforts so they can share learnings.

The funds from the Tersignis were given through the Tersigni Family Foundation, said Sr. McGuire.


Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

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