By JULIE MINDA
When the newly configured Catholic Health Care Federation, the sponsoring body of CommonSpirit Health, holds its first meeting later this month in Chicago, it will formally begin the work central to preserving and advancing the Catholic identity and values of one of the nation's largest Catholic health systems.
CommonSpirit was launched Jan. 31 with the combination of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, but Catholic Health Care Federation dates from 1991. That is when Catholic Health Corp. of Omaha, Neb., one of CHI's predecessor systems, became the first Catholic health organization in the U.S. to get Vatican approval for a pontifical public juridic person in health care. From the outset, Catholic Health Care Federation has been accountable to the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, informally known as the congregation for religious.
When CHI was formed in 1996 through the combination of Catholic Health Corp., Franciscan Health System and Sisters of Charity Health Care System, Catholic Health Care Federation became its canonical authority. The same people that sat on CHI's Board of Stewardship Trustees were given responsibility for both governance and sponsorship, under a mirror board structure. This dual responsibility structure is now in place at CommonSpirit, where all trustees also are members of the ministerial juridic person. (A ministerial juridic person is a type of public juridic person that includes laity and was developed to sustain Catholic identity as membership in religious congregations declined.)
Dignity Health and CHI each have seated seven individuals — who had served on the systems' former boards — onto CommonSpirit's Board of Stewardship Trustees and ministerial juridic person. (The boards will hold separate meetings for sponsorship and governance.)
Sr. Peggy Ann Martin, OP, is executive vice president of sponsorship and governance for CommonSpirit and former senior vice president of sponsorship and governance for CHI. Sr. Martin says the sponsor members are poised and eager to begin the work of unification; providing input into the process of developing CommonSpirit's mission, vision and values statements; developing plans for formation activity at the system; and undertaking other work central to preserving the Catholic identity of the 142-hospital, 21-state system.
An Irish tea set representing the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
Sr. Martin says in the merger discussions, there were two important sponsorship topics: that the new civil corporation that would result from the merger would be Catholic and that Catholic Health Care Federation would be the sponsor.
Catholic Health Care Federation will retain its president, Sr. Barbara Hagedorn, SC. Sr. Judy Carle, RSM, a legacy Dignity Health board member, is vice president of Catholic Health Care Federation. She and Sr. Hagedorn are the only two members of religious congregations on the CommonSpirit sponsor board. The two chief executives of CommonSpirit, Kevin Lofton and Lloyd Dean, are members of the sponsor board.
Sr. Martin says that many sponsor body members already have played a significant role in the lead-up to the creation of CommonSpirit. "Everyone involved, particularly the sponsors, wanted the name of our new health system to reflect Catholic teaching and also that we are united in service even though we bring different perspectives to the ministry," says Sr. Martin. "Which is why (the CommonSpirit Health name) is drawn from First Corinthians: 'There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.'
"The challenge now will be helping everyone to understand what it means to be a sponsor and to bring everyone up to speed. Currently, half of the members are accustomed to the (MJP) model, and half are learning," she says.
The 19 Catholic hospitals that were a part of Dignity Health were directly sponsored by their founding congregations. A Sponsor Council advised Dignity Health's operating board. With the formation of CommonSpirit, the religious congregations no longer directly sponsor those Catholic hospitals. (The 12 other-than-Catholic hospitals that were part of Dignity Health's portfolio are not sponsored by the ministerial juridic person.)
A cross from the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
Dignity Health has six founding congregations and CHI has 13. Dignity Health and CHI share two founding congregations. Catholic Health Care Federation will be tasked with preserving the charisms of those 17 congregations while creating a culture that blends the strengths of its constituent parts into a new entity.
At the sponsors meeting in Chicago, there will be a spiritual ritual to officially welcome the members into their sponsor roles. They will take their canonical oaths at that time as well. And the new participating congregations are invited to bring along gifts representing the founding congregations. Sr. Martin says this is reminiscent of an early Catholic Health Care Federation ritual in which founding congregations of CHI brought gifts representing their history and heritage.
Some of those gifts — now on display at a CHI Englewood, Colo., office — are pictured on this page. They include, from the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, an Irish tea set that symbolizes the hospitality virtue prized by their foundress Catherine McAuley and central to the congregation's charism. And, from the Dominican Sisters of Peace of Great Bend, Kan., a wheat cross evoking the sisters' rural roots, sturdy character and dedication to carrying on Jesus' healing ministry. And a San Damiano Crucifix that the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia gave CHI and that calls to mind St. Francis of Assisi's life and his importance to the sisters' charism.
A San Damiano crucifix from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
Sr. Martin says in this inaugural year as CommonSpirit sponsor, the members will determine how best to preserve the system's Catholic identity, including through orientation and formation of their sponsor body members as well as of CommonSpirit leadership.
The sponsor members will be involved in shaping the health system's mission, vision and values. Sr. Martin says it could take up to a year for CommonSpirit to develop its unified values. "We want to give ourselves the time to have thoughtful discussions, because these initial decisions will have lasting implications for our new health system," says Sr. Martin. "Our guiding principles should continue the commitments shared by the congregations from both legacy systems."
Sr. Martin says the sponsor members are seeking out opportunities to bond as a united body. In addition to the meeting later this month, they'll be taking part in CHA's annual Ecclesiology and Spiritual Renewal Program for Health Care Leaders this spring in Rome. During that trip, they'll meet as a group with the congregation for religious. In 2020, the Catholic Health Care Federation will take another trip to Rome to file its first official report on Catholic identity and formation initiatives.
CommonSpirit Health executive team combines talent from Dignity Health, CHI
CommonSpirit Health, the Catholic system formed through the merger of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, has a leadership team comprised of top executives of both those systems.
Lloyd H. Dean of Dignity Health and Kevin E. Lofton of CHI lead CommonSpirit as chief executive officers with independent areas of responsibility. Both will jointly oversee strategy and integration planning of the new ministry.
Dean, who was president and chief executive of Dignity Health, will have authority over operations and all clinical, financial and human resources of CommonSpirit. Lofton, who was CHI chief executive, will be responsible for advocacy, compliance, digital, information technology, international business, legal services, philanthropy, mission, sponsorship and governance, and system partnerships.
Other members of CommonSpirit's executive leadership team include:
Marvin O'Quinn, president and chief operating officer. As senior executive vice president and chief operating officer for Dignity Health, he was responsible for operations in all the system's service areas and integrated process management.
Daniel Morissette, chief financial officer. As senior executive vice president and chief financial officer at Dignity Health, he had oversight of financial affairs and other corporate operations.
Charles P. Francis, chief strategy and transformation officer. As senior executive vice president/chief strategy officer for Dignity Health, he was in charge of that system's strategic direction, market position and public policy initiatives.
Paul W. Edgett III, chief business lines officer. As executive vice president and chief strategy officer for CHI, he was responsible for charting the company's strategic direction through planning, transactions and partnerships.
Fr. Thomas R. Kopfensteiner, STD, chief mission officer. As executive vice president of mission for CHI, he was responsible for incorporating the ministry's community mission, vision and core values into the service, culture and leadership of the organization.
Mitch H. Melfi, chief legal officer. He was executive vice president of corporate affairs and chief legal officer for CHI. Before that, he was president and chief executive of First Initiatives Insurance, CHI's wholly owned insurance company.
Darryl Robinson, chief human resources officer. As executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Dignity Health, he was responsible for the organization's human resources strategy.
Kathleen D. Sanford, chief nursing officer. As senior vice president and chief nursing officer for CHI, she was executive leader for quality and patient safety; nursing, pharmacy and medical-imaging services; and clinical leadership development.
Laura Young-Shehata, senior vice president of information technology services in the office of the chief information officer. She will work in partnership with Denis Zerr until a permanent chief information officer is selected for CommonSpirit. She was senior vice president of enterprise health care IT services for Dignity Health.
Denis Zerr, senior vice president of information technology services in the office of the chief information officer. He was CHI's senior vice president for information technology services.
Dr. Robert Wiebe, chief medical officer. As executive vice president/chief medical officer for Dignity Health, he led systemwide clinical and patient care efforts.
Bruce Swartz, senior vice president, physician enterprise. He was senior vice president, physician integration for Dignity Health.
Elizabeth Shih, chief administrative officer (supporting Dean). She was executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Dignity Health.
Patricia G. Webb, chief administrative officer (supporting Lofton). She was executive vice president and chief administrative officer and chief human resources officer for CHI.
The CommonSpirit Health Board of Stewardship Trustees
The individuals on CommonSpirit Health's Board of Stewardship Trustees also serve as members of its sponsorship body.
Officers and members of the CommonSpirit Board of Stewardship Trustees are:
Polly Bednash, formerly of the Catholic Health Initiatives Board of Stewardship Trustees. She is a past executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Dr. Kent Bradley, formerly of the Dignity Health Board of Directors. He is the chief executive and president of BTN Advisors.
Sr. Judy Carle, RSM, formerly of the Dignity board. She was the secretary of the Dignity board.
Lloyd H. Dean is one of the two chief executives of CommonSpirit Health. He was president and chief executive of Dignity.
Mark DeMichele, formerly of the Dignity board. He is the retired president and chief executive of Arizona Public Service Co., an electric utility. He now works in real estate.
Tessie Guillermo, chair of the CommonSpirit board, had chaired the Dignity board. She is a past president and chief executive of ZeroDivide, a San Francisco-area foundation.
Sr. Barbara Hagedorn, SC, formerly of the CHI board. She has served as congregational leader and president of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
James P. Hamill, formerly of the CHI board. He is the retired president and chief executive of Meritus Health, a clinically integrated health system.
Peter G. Hanelt, formerly of the Dignity board. He has held executive posts at numerous consumer goods companies.
Antoinette Hardy-Waller, formerly of the CHI board. She is founder and chief executive of The Leverage Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the representation of African Americans in governance and board roles in health care.
Kevin E. Lofton is one of the two chief executives of CommonSpirit Health. He is the former chief executive of CHI.
Christopher Lowney, vice chair of the CommonSpirit board, had chaired the CHI board. A public speaker and author, he was a managing director of J.P. Morgan.
Patrick S. Steele, formerly of the Dignity board. He had been chief information officer for Delta Dental of California.
Dr. Gary R. Yates, formerly of the CHI board. He is a partner with Press Ganey Strategic Consulting, a firm that works with health care organizations to understand and improve the patient experience.
An additional member will be named.
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