By LISA EISENHAUER
INDIANAPOLIS — Even though the last year has brought major business challenges for a health care sector still stressed by the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Rhonda Medows said she sees reason for hope, particularly for Catholic health care.
Medows, president of population health management for Providence St. Joseph Health, pointed to the historic resilience of the Catholic health ministry in confronting disasters "and coming out of them as not only the victor, but also the entity that actually helps the communities and their people thrive."
In her valedictory remarks as the outgoing chair of the CHA board of trustees at the opening session of the 2022 Catholic Health Assembly on June 5, Medows said health systems "face the threat of financial disability and not being able to sustain themselves."
She said the threat comes not only from a pandemic that has destabilized operations and upended planning, but from the newer challenges of unprecedented spikes in labor costs, sustained supply chain interruptions and insurers who slow-walk payments for services.
She said of the Catholic health care ministry: "We are a critical piece of the health care infrastructure, and we are an absolute necessity for the health care safety net."
To weather the current storm, Medows suggested that health systems might have to rethink how they do business, such as how and where services are provided and how payments are negotiated.
Medows said the stress on health care providers is exacerbated by the turmoil rocking the entire nation. She mentioned hate crimes and gun violence, some of which has occurred on hospital campuses. "Our places of healing should never be a war zone," she underscored.
Despite the difficult times, Medows said care providers can find joy in knowing that they save lives and bring new lives into the world. She said health care systems should take pride in making caregivers feel loved, supported and protected and in finding a path to financial sustainability.
"We will rejoice because we know that when these things come together, we'll be demonstrating without a doubt, without a doubt, the healing ministry of Jesus," Medows said.
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