December 24, 2018

Statement on a Texas Federal Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act

“The Catholic Health Association is very disappointed in the recent Texas federal district court decision on the Affordable Care Act. We profoundly disagree with it from a legal perspective. It is un-American and immoral to be aggressively seeking to take health insurance from the over 20 million people who have finally received coverage through the ACA. (more…)

November 15, 2018

BHS communities recognized in US News and World Report’s ‘Best Nursing Homes’

Fifteen senior care communities in the Benedictine Health System, a leading faith-based provider of quality senior care and living services in the Midwest, received the top high performing recognition in overall quality in the nursing home category and/or in the new category of overall quality of short-stay rehabilitation, as noted in the recently released 2018-2019 U.S. News and World Report “Best Nursing Homes” report. (more…)

October 30, 2018

Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, to retire as president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United State

Sr. Carol Keehan, an influential voice for increasing health care access for all and a lifetime advocate for the poor, today announced her retirement as president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) effective June 30, 2019. Sr. Carol is the ninth president and CEO of CHA, the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the nation, serving in the role since 2005.  (more…)

October 25, 2018

St. Mary’s designated in top tier for trauma care

A six-year-long effort culminated Monday in an email that arrived in Jim Garvey’s inbox.

That’s how Garvey, administrator of Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, learned that St. Mary’s had become the fifth hospital in Minnesota designated as a Level I trauma center.

The elevation from Level II to Level I — the top level bestowed by the American College of Surgeons — may make little difference to the average patient heading to the emergency room in the back of an ambulance.

But there’s more to it than a wonkish numbers game, Essentia officials say.

“It’s really about a different level of expertise,” said Dr. David Herman, CEO of Essentia Health. “So, for example, I do get letters that say, ‘I had to be flown down to the Twin Cities for this particular care. How come you don’t do that at Essentia?’ … Well, we do. … You don’t have to go down to the Twin Cities to get the care.”

St. Mary’s treats about 1,600 trauma patients each year, according to an Essentia news release.

Only a few of them still need to be referred out of town, officials said. A patient burned over 70 percent of their body likely would be transferred, Herman said. Transplants aren’t done in Duluth, Garvey added. Those were the only significant exceptions they could name.

The trauma designation system is designed to signify the level of care available at a hospital, according to the American College of Surgeons. They range from Level V, where a patient can be evaluated and stabilized before being routed to higher levels of care; to Level I, “a comprehensive regional resource center that is … central to the trauma system.”

Dozens of hospitals across the state are designated for trauma care by the Minnesota Department of Health, mostly at Level IV or V. But only 11 meet the additional requirements from the American College of Surgeons. As a Level I hospital for adult care, St. Mary’s joins Hennepin County Medical Center, Mayo Clinic Trauma Centers in Rochester, North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale and Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

St. Luke’s is a Level II trauma hospital for adult care, and St. Mary’s is Level II for pediatric care. For adult trauma, St. Mary’s offers what it has for some time, said Dr. Steve Eyer, adult trauma medical director. Board-certified trauma surgeons are not just on call but at the hospital 24/7, 365 days a year.

But to qualify as Level I, other factors are required, including research and teaching.

Essentia has a “robust” trauma research program, said Kate Dean, executive director of the Essentia Institute of Rural Health. In three years, their research has published 17 times in medical journals, she said.

On the education side, St. Mary’s is taking on one medical school graduate each year for a five-year residency in rural general surgery, she said. The first of the residents graduated in June.

St. Mary’s had been verified as a Level II trauma center since 1997, said Linda Vogel, trauma program manager. The hospital began working toward Level I six years ago, she said. The verification process takes place every three years, but the hospital didn’t seek the higher level until this year.

The American College of Surgeons sent a team of three surgeons to St. Mary’s in mid-September. They evaluated more than 200 criteria to determine whether the hospital could be upgraded to Level I, Vogel said.

Eyer said he was confident at the time that St. Mary’s had met the criteria. But the speed of the announcement was surprising. It usually takes two months before a hospital is notified, he said.

Eyer, Vogel and Garvey got the news via email on Monday, just over a month after the inspectors visited.

“We were not expecting it until mid-November,” Garvey said. “We were caught off guard a little bit.”

The St. Mary’s team is celebrating the accomplishment with a news conference today.

September 15, 2018

Barb Wessberg Honored by MN Association of Healthcare Volunteers

Congratulations to Barb Wessberg, CEO of Benedictine Living Community of Duluth, who was honored by Minnesota Association of Healthcare Volunteers as recipient of Outstanding Senior Leadership Award.

July 30, 2018

‘Every single day is a gift’: This dying man openly opposed assisted suicide in his last days

There was a time — several months after J.J. Hanson was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, but several years before he died from it — when, he once said, he might have considered ending it all.

The husband and father said in 2015 that the previous year, he learned that he had a Grade 4 brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme and was given four months to live. (more…)

July 2, 2018

With Medicaid under siege, CHA trumpets program’s critical importance

Millions of people who rely on Medicaid for their care including many with complex medical needs could lose their coverage if the program’s opponents have their way. By telling the stories of people who have benefitted from Medicaid, CHA hopes to grow public support for the insurance program and stave off threats to its reach and solvency. (more…)

June 26, 2018

USCCB publishes new edition of Ethical and Religious Directives

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is publishing the sixth edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a revision that implements modifications regarding collaborating with non-Catholic partners. (more…)
May 24, 2018

Dayton Vetos Bill

On Wednesday, May 23 2018, Gov. Mark Dayton followed through on his promise to veto the major work of this year’s legislative session, taking down a tax bill with money for public schools as well as the omnibus supplemental spending bill. (more…)

May 15, 2018

AHA Award to Sr. Carol Keehan

The American Hospital Association (AHA) today announced that a 2018 Award of Honor will be awarded to Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Catholic Health Association (CHA). The award, presented on May 7 at the AHA’s Annual Meeting, is given to individuals or organizations in recognition of exemplary contributions to the health and well-being of our nation through leadership on major health policy or social initiatives.

Sister Keehan has served as president and CEO of CHA for 13 years and is the Association’s ninth president and CEO. Prior to this role, she served in leadership and administrative roles for more than 35 years. This includes serving as board chair of Ascension Health’s Sacred Heart Health System in Pensacola, Florida and 15 years as president and CEO of Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C.

“Sister Keehan has been a steadfast leader and advocate for health care equity, and her leadership helped to ensure that all patients would have access to health coverage,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “As a caregiver she has committed her life to lifting up the vulnerable, the poor and the ill, and this work has made our communities more just and fair. Her decades of leadership and role as president and CEO at Catholic Health Association continues to strengthen hospitals and health systems across the nation.”

Sister Keehan’s contributions to the health care field has spanned both nationally and internationally. In 2014, she was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine, which advises the nation and international community on issues of vital importance to public health. Nationally, she played an integral role in advancing the Affordable Care Act and ensuring that it continues to effectively provide health coverage to vulnerable people and working families.

Sister Keehan earned a diploma in nursing from DePaul Hospital School of Nursing in Norfolk, Virginia, a bachelor of science degree in nursing from St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., where she graduated magna cum laude, and a master of science degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina, from which she received the School of Business Distinguished Alumna Award in 2000 and was honored in 2009 as an outstanding alumna. She has also received numerous honorary doctorate degrees.

In 2010, TIME magazine named Sister Keehan one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Previous Award of Honor winners include organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ohio Hospital Association’s Energy and Sustainability Program, Reach Out and Read, Ronald McDonald House Charities®, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and Habitat for Humanity. Individuals such as Spencer Johnson, past president of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association in Okemos, Mich.; Rhonda Anderson, R.N., DNSc, chief executive officer, Cardon Children’s Medical Center; George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente; and Donald M. Berwick, M.D., former administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have also been honored.