Ascension Health reorganizes senior care facilities

September 1, 2014


St. Louis-based Ascension Health has reorganized under a single organization most of its facilities and programs focusing on senior adults.

St. Louis-based Ascension Health Senior Care, which launched on July 1, oversees 34 Ascension Health independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities representing nearly 5,600 resident beds and about 5,000 employees. Ascension Health Senior Care also includes Ascension Health Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly serving about 725 enrollees. The senior care division bills itself as the nation's second–largest not–for–profit long–term care provider.


Mark Frey is Ascension Health ministry market leader for senior services and president and chief executive of Ascension Health's Alexian Brothers Health System of Arlington Heights, Ill. He said Ascension Health reorganized its facilities in this way because of a "desire to enhance and improve the services we provide to seniors by consolidating leadership expertise, capitalizing on the intellectual capital Ascension had that was dispersed across the country, unifying strategy and standardizing best practices. Centralizing infrastructure and IT platforms also were important, given the potential to lower overhead and improve the use and distribution of information," he said.

He said Ascension Health expects the reorganization to lead to improved health outcomes, reduced costs and an improved experience for senior adults served by Ascension Health Senior Care facilities. According to information from Ascension Health, there have been no layoffs as a result of the reorganization.

The new structure for the senior ministries also should allow for more investment into the facilities. They now will have a specific capital allocation dedicated to senior care facilities, and so the senior leadership team will be able to deploy funds as needed, according to Ascension Health. The new structure also should promote more efficient operations and growth opportunities, according to information from Ascension Health.

Prior to the reorganization, some of Ascension Health's senior facilities were affiliated with Ascension Health subsystems including Alexian Brothers Health System and Via Christi Health of Wichita, Kan.; and some were freestanding providers. For those that had been aligned with a local ministry, Frey said the acute care and long-term care facilities will continue to work together, including to partner on strategies, provide seamless care to people transitioning between care sites and pursue population health approaches together. In markets where the system has an acute care presence and an accountable care organization presence, "the expectation is that Ascension Health Senior Care will be a significant partner in the provision of post-acute and long-term care services" connected with those accountable care organizations, he said.

Frey said that Ascension Health Senior Care leadership expects long-term care facilities across the U.S. — those within Ascension Health included — to continue to experience reimbursement declines, pressure on revenues and decreasing utilization. Excess capacity issues are occurring in part because today's senior adults want to live at home and age in place for as long as possible. "Facilities will need to demonstrate they truly are best-in-class and prove they bring value to the continuum of care," said Frey. He said to do this, the Ascension Health Senior Care facilities will need to integrate with acute care and home health providers and medical retailers.

Frey said in the next few years, the new division will be examining how best to provide seniors with care that aligns with Ascension Health's Catholic identity, where it may make sense to expand, how to better integrate senior care into the broader health care ministry, how to meet the changing expectations of seniors and how to help seniors maintain or improve their health as they age.

In addition to Frey, Ascension Health Senior Care's leadership team includes:

  • James T. Walsh, chief operating officer
  • Gary Mohn, chief executive, Eastern Region
  • Erik Hatten, chief executive, Western Region
  • Joseph Girardi, chief financial officer
  • Gayle Randa, chief human resources officer
  • Daniel Stricker, vice president of business development


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.