BY: SUSAN K. HUME
The Catholic Health Association's website—formerly CHAOnline—has a raft of new features, a new name, and a new structure, all designed to make the service more valuable and user-friendly.
In November, the website's name was changed to CHAusa to match its Internet address (www.chausa.org) and make it easier to find. More important than the name, however, are the new content and capabilities the site offers.
Public Policy Expansion
The public policy area now presents daily healthcare news; an advocacy network database; a searchable public policy archive; advocacy alerts; and current issues of Washington Update, a semi-monthly summary of advocacy issues, and Health Policy Issue Brief, a monthly background paper on specific issues, such as the new state children's health insurance program.
One of the biggest problems in advocacy is access to information, explained Bill Cox, CHA's executive vice president. "The ground is shifting in Washington," he said. "The Internet is becoming the substitute for other methods of transmitting information, such as faxes or enormous printed documents. Since everyone else is getting the information quickly, healthcare advocates in Catholic organizations have to get it that way too."
In addition to posting CHA statements on proposed legislation and regulations, CHA staff will sift through information from the federal government and provide links to important news and documents for CHA advocacy coordinators. "CHA's website will be a daily source of fresh information for advocacy coordinators," Cox said. As with all information on CHAusa, some material is available only to CHA members.
The new advocacy network allows CHA members to do searches related to members of Congress, congressional committees, and other CHA members, linking them by districts or states to facilitate effective advocacy campaigns. The network gives key personnel and other data on CHA's organizational members; information on dioceses; and data on senators and representatives, including congressional committees and complete contact information.
Mission Services Area
A second area that was recently expanded, Mission Services, pulls together resources and information on healthcare ethics, spiritual care, leadership development, and mission. Some of the information—such as directories of ethicists, theologians, and ethics centers; sample policy and position statements; and CHA documents and models—has been available for some time, but now it is centralized and more easily accessible. However, new features are being added as well.
"A lot of CHA's projects are generated through discussions with members," explained Sr. Jean deBlois, CSJ, PhD, vice president of Mission Services, "so we want to make these available even in their developmental stages."
She added that CHAusa can become a hub for networking among Catholic healthcare leaders in mission, ethics, leadership development, and spiritual care. "We want to share members' wisdom and best practices so that they don't have to spend their time inventing the same wheel," she said.
Among the planned offerings are chat rooms on specific ethical topics, resources for prayer and ritual, links to Church documents, and news bites related to the subject areas.
In December CHA will introduce a new website resource, Organizational Integrity in Catholic Healthcare Ministry: The Role of the Leader. Using hyperlink technology to deliver Scripture, poetry, Church documents, glossary definitions, and more, this tool explores the nature of leadership and decision making in healthcare as a ministry. (Next month's issue of Health Progress will examine this resource in more detail.)
In addition to updated content, CHAusa also has a new structure that makes it easier to access the members-only information, without having to click through a lot of pages. Other features include:
- Directory of Catholic healthcare in the United States and Canada
- Back issues of Catholic Health World, Health Progress, Washington Update, and Health Policy Issue Brief
- Resources and information on sponsorship, continuum of care, and New Covenant
- Calendar, listing meetings held by CHA (with links to brochures) and other organizations
- Employment opportunities in the Catholic healthcare ministry
- Information on the 83rd Catholic Health Assembly, including complete program information (when available), online registration, and guides to New Orleans
For more information, contact Dan Jones at 314-253-3457 or, by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1997 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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