Committee learns about organizations with for-profit status or secular identities

June 1, 2014

Survey will seek members' input on CHA membership criteria


A committee that is looking into organizational structures in the ministry that currently fall outside of CHA's traditional membership criteria has been gaining insights into those structures by talking with leaders of those organizations. The 15-person CHA Membership Study Committee, which was formed in 2011, has been using this second year of its three-year study period to interview leaders of CHA member organizations that have converted from nonprofit to for-profit corporations or that are no longer officially recognized as Catholic.

On behalf of the committee, Cathy Sullivan Clark, a director at the Noblis consulting firm, has interviewed leaders of about a half dozen organizations that have converted to one of the new structures. The goal of the interviews was to gain insight — which may be particular in each case given the variety of models — to help inform the discernment process related to CHA's membership structure and criteria. The topics discussed during the interviews covered the context for the organizational change; the lessons, benefits and challenges associated with the change; the impact of the change; the impact on the relationship with CHA; and the level of support of the commitments of Catholic identity. Clark was to present themes identified through the interview process at a meeting of the committee May 28, after Catholic Health World went to press.

In addition to the interviews, in 2013, the committee commissioned a white paper, "Caritas in Communion: Theological Foundations of Catholic Health Care," which examined the membership questions from a theological perspective. That paper, which was presented at the 2013 Catholic Health Assembly and appeared in summary in the July-August 2013 issue of Health Progress, explored what it means to be a Catholic health care provider and how an organization's structure — including its for-profit status — might impact its Catholic identity.

The committee also sought member feedback on these questions through a survey at the June 2013 Catholic Health Assembly. That survey found that respondents generally were aware of the organizational models in question, and most respondents said the models could have a positive impact on the Catholic health ministry. Most also said they would support a change in CHA's membership criteria to allow organizations with these new models to be members of the association. At the assembly in June, the committee will once again survey attendees on questions relating to CHA membership. Attendees can take an online survey in the CHA Center on the fifth floor of the Chicago Marriott Downtown, the assembly hotel.

The insights gained from the interviews, the theological white paper and the membership surveys will be used to inform the committee's ongoing discernment process. At its fall meeting, the committee will determine whether to recommend changes to the CHA membership criteria to accommodate some or all of the new organizational structures. The committee's recommendations will then go to the CHA Board of Trustees for approval, in addition to reviews by the CHA Executive, Governance and Finance Committees. If approved, the proposed changes will be brought to the CHA Membership Assembly for a vote in June 2015.

Colleen Scanlon is senior vice president, chief advocacy officer for Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives and chair of the Membership Study Committee. She said that from the outset, the committee has "tried to create a very inclusive and open discernment process, inviting members of the ministry to provide their perspectives, ideas and questions to the committee — this has been invaluable to the integrity and ultimate outcome of the process."


Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

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