September-October 2019 | Volume 100, Number 5
BY: SR. MARY HADDAD, RSM
Like many of you, I have enjoyed reading the stories that celebrate the 100th anniversary of Health Progress
and appreciate the fresh perspective on the events of the past. In addition to the interesting articles and reflections, I particularly have enjoyed viewing the publication's ads through the years that we've posted on CHA's website. I smiled, thinking Gumpert's Gelatine Dessert may have been the likely centerpiece on hospital trays for many patients. Additionally, I was quite surprised to learn that at one time hospitals could buy their alcohol direct from the distiller. Thank you, Milwaukee! Times have changed and so has Catholic health care.
BY: FR. MICHAEL ROZIER, SJ, PhD
The ideas behind social determinants of health are quickly growing from a whisper to a chorus. You know an idea is finally popular when the term itself becomes a point of debate. For example, some suggest that "social influencers of health" or "social risk factors" are better terms to use than social determinants of health because they avoid the fatalistic notion of "determinants" or lessen academic jargon.1 Regardless of the term, we are starting to appreciate that health is influenced by a host of factors outside of medical care and genetics, including education, housing, transportation, environment, neighborhood characteristics and much more. This realization has become particularly acute in health care delivery, where new payment models require an organization to attend not just to a patient's medical complexity but also to his or her social complexity.
BY: JANE GRAF, MS
"We can do better" — this simple idea was uttered in a front-porch meeting of Catholic sisters in the early 1980s in Nebraska, setting a precedent that would lead to the birth of the nation's largest affordable housing nonprofit, Mercy Housing.
BY: NANCY A. MYERS, PhD, and GRETCHEN WILLIAMS TORRES, MPP
Improving the health of individuals, and their neighborhoods and communities as a whole, is one of the most pressing challenges today in the United States. Given the myriad social, environmental and economic factors that contribute to health, making meaningful and sustainable improvements in the well-being of individuals and creating healthy communities cannot be accomplished by one organization or sector alone.
BY: JOHN MORRISSEY
Before people can get care, they have to get there. That sounds simple enough, but it's often no simple matter for those who live alone, who are hobbled or weakened by chronic illness or the side effects of treatment, who can't afford to take a taxi, bus or train, or who struggle with language or physical barriers to getting around.
BY: PABLO BRAVO VIAL
Every day in emergency departments throughout the country, we see patients who come to us for care to treat conditions that could have been avoided if only they had a clean and safe place to live.
Understanding the connection between housing and health has brought hospitals and health systems to invest in solutions for decades. This is not new for us. In spite of seemingly overwhelming need and unfathomable complexity, the health care industry is helping create and sustain affordable housing. There are, of course, enormous obstacles.
BY: TONY BELTRAN, MBA
Beneath a busy highway overpass in downtown Pittsburgh, a memorial wall honors 165 individuals known to have died while homeless in Allegheny County between 1989 and 2018. Every December, on the Winter Solstice, Pittsburgh Mercy's Operation Safety Net holds a candlelight vigil there to commemorate the lives lost on the streets during that year.
BY: ELIZABETH ANN SCARBOROUGH
I became urgently and personally interested in disabilities, in particular limited mobility, at age 60. That's when my knees announced to me that I was not a kid anymore, and I was going to find out what aging and pain were all about. I had no medical insurance, and had not had any for the previous 20 years because I couldn't afford it.
BY: DAVID WERNING
Catholic Charities USA has started its Healthy Housing Initiative to integrate health and housing services to simultaneously address both chronic homelessness and health care issues related to homelessness. In early 2019, five diocesan Catholic Charities agencies were selected to pilot a five-year, multimillion-dollar initiative. It is beginning in the regions of St. Louis, Detroit, Las Vegas, Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.
BY: MICHAEL MILLER, JR., MA
I bought Matthew Desmond's Pulitzer Prize- winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
, sensing that it was something I needed to read. The book, however, remained unread on my shelf for about a year. I'm not totally sure why. Perhaps I anticipated some of the hard truths that it would reveal and, somewhere, deep down, I recognized that I wasn't ready to confront them just yet.
BY: THERESA VITHAYATHIL EDMONSON
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
— ISAIAH 32:18
I can't make the claim that I have experienced housing or transportation as an unmet need. I have been blessed my entire life in that I have had secure and stable housing, had access to transportation, education and healthy foods. I can take care of my health needs — all those elements of life that allow a person and community to flourish.
BY: CLAY O'DELL, PhD
Much has changed since this journal began publishing in 1919. At that time, the then-Catholic Hospital Association was only 5 years old. Based in Milwaukee, Wis., at the time, it was founded as an outlet for the nation's approximately 600 Catholic hospitals to share operational best practices and ideas to help maintain their mission and identity. "Advocacy," or government affairs, was not one of CHA's core activities when Hospital Progress debuted in 1919. This was hardly surprising given the federal government's small role in the health care industry at that time. But over the course of the next century, the government's role and the role of health care organizations such as CHA would change dramatically, making advocacy one of CHA's top priorities. As we celebrate the birthday of Health Progress, we reviewed some highlights of the Catholic health ministry's advocacy initiatives over the last century, as seen through the lens of Health Progress and other sources.
BY: THOMAS KOPFENSTEINER, STD
Anyone involved in Catholic health care is aware of the enormous number of concerns when there is talk of a possible strategic alignment or merger with other health care systems. They involve strategy, finance, clinical, human resources, moral, legal and canonical concerns, among others. I have written this article as a reflection, building on the church requirement of obtaining nihil obstat1 — or, in this case, declarations from Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, that nothing hindered the joining of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, allowing for the creation of CommonSpirit Health earlier this year. The combined health care system has 142 hospitals and more than 700 care sites across the nation. The reader of this article can pause and reflect on a few questions and, perhaps, share her or his answers with others. It also can be read without this group dialogue, or the questions can be used without being a part of CommonSpirit Health, substituting your health system when appropriate.