When Julie Rehmeyer recently had a sudden flare-up of her complex, chronic conditions, she sought care at her local hospital, a place she goes only for the most urgent emergencies. "I had a pretty horrendous experience just due to a lack of familiarity with my condition and misinterpretation of what was happening," she shared. "Because of that experience, I feel a certain kind of ongoing peril."
MICHAEL J. O'LOUGHLIN
Sam Moore needed help. Diagnosed with HIV in 1997, the New Orleans native kept his health in check with daily medication, something of a miracle considering the devastation HIV and AIDS unleashed on marginalized communities in the 1980s and 1990s.
ROBERT LIPPMAN, DBH, MSW
"Thank you," the woman said as she entered the clinic. Those two words were the simple prologue to a heartfelt story. She proceeded to tell me that earlier in the year she had come to the clinic as a patient when she was experiencing homelessness and addiction to get a free two-hour bus pass. During her visit, we asked if she would like to use the clinic shower. She still remembered how that water washed off more than a little grime — it empowered her to manifest a new belief in herself. She then used her bus pass to get to a local rehab facility. "Today," she said, "I am proud that I have been clean for three months and am no longer homeless."
CHRISTINA J. SCHAUER, MSN, ARNP, ACNS-BC
When I joined the U.S. Army in 1999, I never envisioned myself being sent to war. However, on September 11, 2001, the world drastically changed, and by May of 2003, I was boarding a plane to Southwest Asia. That year — as a combat medic with the 389th Engineer Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq — was the part of my military experience, if not of my life, that led me to some deep realizations.
PAULO G. PONTEMAYOR
The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic posed numerous challenges to society, as communities and governments around the world worked to mitigate the health and economic fallout from the virus. We can remember how, in 2020, states began to shut down schools, restaurants and places of worship to help prevent its spread. We can probably even remember the fateful day of January 31, 2020, when Alex Azar, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, declared COVID-19 a public health emergency. Immediately after this declaration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and other federal entities began to coordinate a response, developing testing, researching therapeutics and working to make vaccines available.
As the world watched events unfold during Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, many CHA members inquired about the most effective ways to provide humanitarian support. CHA hosted multiple networking events to share best practices and hear and connect with members and those already on the ground working in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
SR. DORIS GOTTEMOELLER, RSM
Years ago, I was scheduled to present a breakout session on Catholic health care at a national meeting for the heads of diocesan priests' councils. I took my place in front of the group, poised to share my presentation and prepared remarks. But before I could speak, one of the priests called out, "I think we should sell all the Catholic hospitals and give the money to the poor." Amidst a rumble of laughter and some raised eyebrows, I retorted, "And I'm here to tell you why you're wrong!" I'm not sure how many converts I made that day, but the challenge has never left me.
MYLES N. SHEEHAN, SJ, MD
To help clear any possible misunderstandings when having discussions around the ERDs, I suggest some strategies I use in my work in Catholic health care.
Jesus' return to Capernaum where he meets a paralytic person is one of the more interesting health care stories in the Bible; it's about many things — faith, friendship, holistic healing of body, mind and spirit — but it's also about health care access.
JULIE TROCCHIO, BSN, MS AND NANCY LIM, RN, MPH
CHA developed as the go-to resource for community benefit reporting and compliance in the 1980s, and the organization continues to lead the field today. This work includes creating the conditions for whole-person health and improving care access and outcomes for all people, with focus on integrating equity throughout our systems and communities. Community benefit work is done across the continuum of health care, including addressing the social determinants of health, and we tell the story of nonprofit health care and monitor our work using data.
SAMONE FRANZESE, MD, AND CAROLYN O'BRIEN, MSPH
BRIAN KANE, PhD
Twenty years ago, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issued the document, "Water, an Essential Element for Life." It outlines the Catholic Church's position on water, stating that "The management of water and sanitation must address the needs of all, and particularly of persons living in poverty. Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of over one billion persons and more than twice that number have no adequate sanitation. This all too often is the cause of disease, unnecessary suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death. This situation is characterized by countless unacceptable injustices."
FAITH MINNICH KJESBO, MAMFT
In early 2021, Avera — along with other Catholic health systems throughout the country — joined CHA's We Are Called initiative.1 As Avera's service region in five states continues to reflect greater cultural and religious diversity, ongoing education and formation around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is essential to faithfully live our identity, demonstrating Christ's healing compassion in the world. Knowing that good intentions are not sufficient to ensure positive outcomes, Avera's boards and employees need up-to-date information to guide decision-making and effective action.
DENNIS GONZALES, PhD AND KENDRA BRANDSTEIN, PhD, MPH, MSW
One of the things I love most about my work at CHA is the opportunity to meet a multitude of colleagues from across the Catholic health care ministry. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the great work so many are doing across the country in extending the healing ministry of Jesus in our communities, especially for those who are underserved and vulnerable. I encountered one such example on a recent visit I made to San Diego. The mission team at Scripps Mercy Hospital, led by Mark Zangrando, extended a generous welcome as I toured their facilities and met a wide variety of staff.
SR. MARY HADDAD, RSM
Over the past several years, Catholic health care has faced unprecedented challenges. From the start of the COVID pandemic and the severe financial and workforce strains that followed, to the ongoing polarization in society that has led to attacks on our Catholic identity, it became clear that external pressures were thrusting us into a time of transition and much-needed change. With this new reality in mind, CHA's Board of Trustees and leaders from across our membership recognized that in order to serve in dynamic ways and meet the needs of our patients and community, we must change how we approach our work. There was a strong feeling that in this profound time of transformation, we must let go of what has been while actively embracing what is to come.
JILL FISK, MATM, and KARLA KEPPEL, MA