BY: SR. MARY CARITAS GEARY, SP, AND JULIE TROCCHIO, RN, MS
Sr. Geary is advocacy coordinator, Sisters of Providence, Holyoke,
MA, and chair of the Continuum of Care and Aging Committee at the Catholic Health
Association, St. Louis. Ms. Trocchio is director of Long-term Care, Catholic
Health Association, St. Louis. Ms. Trocchio served as guest editor for this
At certain times in the history of our health care ministry, we have been
called to meet profound needs in our communities. At this moment, and as we
move forward, we are called to respond to the needs of an aging population.
This call has a demographic imperative hurtling toward us like a locomotive.
Over the next three decades, the number of people older than 85 years is expected
This call also has a mission imperative. We respect life at every stage of
development; we are called to support the dignity of individuals in their last
years of life, when their dignity is most fragile. We believe that health means
wholeness and that this holistic view of the spiritual, physical, and emotional
being — with health, shelter, and social needs — is most important in the later
years of life.
We are the right people to meet this challenge. Catholic health care has a
ministry rich in a tradition of compassion, innovation, collaboration, and excellence.
We will need all these gifts as we respond to this population's needs.
This issue of Health Progress is intended to help our governance, executive,
and staff leaders come to grips with critical issues related to caring for an
aging nation. From staffing to financing, redesigning a care system for a predominantly
chronically ill population, to advocating public policy, this issue offers concrete
suggestions for dealing with many of the challenges facing us as we answer the
call to care for God's oldest children.
Copyright © 2001 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.