After being slowed a bit by the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Mary's Healthcare has completed its return to being an independent Catholic health care ministry under the governance of a local board of directors.
The separation from Ascension, which began in March, was completed in mid-September. St. Mary's had been part of the larger system since 2002.
"Ascension leadership has been terrific, and they've been very helpful supporting this transition," said Scott Bruce, St. Mary's Healthcare president and chief executive. "While we're separate from Ascension now, there's a transition agreement that will take us through the next nine months or so." Bruce took over the system's top leadership post in July with the retirement of Vic Giulianelli, who had been chief executive since 2005.
Bruce said the move to independence followed a long discernment process. The change will allow the system based in Amsterdam, New York, to keep decision-making under the control of St. Mary's board and leadership team with input from a workforce of about 1,600, he said. A major undertaking for St. Mary's that is coinciding with returning all of its operations to the local level is the installation of a new information technology system.
The system will continue to be a Catholic ministry sponsored by the Diocese of Albany and adhere to the Ethical and
Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
St. Mary's traces its origins to 1903, when it was founded by five Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. It has grown to include an acute care hospital, primary and specialty care centers throughout Fulton and Montgomery counties in New York, a 160-bed nursing home and more than 30 community-based behavioral health programs.
Bruce said St. Mary's is committed to serving Amsterdam and surrounding communities for the long term. "Like other health systems, we're looking at changes that are happening in health care where we're moving away from providing a service when our patients are sick and toward a model of population health," he said. "It is going to be a challenge but one that I think is going to fit very well with the mission of St. Mary's and the mission of Catholic health care, and that's to take care of our community and certainly focus on the poor and vulnerable."
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