In an interview with Health Progress, Sr. Patricia A. Eck, DBS, and Christopher M Carney, respectively the chairperson of the board and president/chief executive officer of Bon Secours Health System, Inc. (BSHSI), Marriotsville, MD, talked about their system, the Catholic health ministry, and not-for-profit healthcare in general. BSHSI is sponsored by the Congregation of Bon Secours, which was founded in Paris in 1824 to provide home healthcare for the poor.
Inquiry: A Journal of Medical Care Organization, Provision and Financing
Catholic hospitals maintain a significant presence in delivering hospital services in the United States, but little is known about the ways they differ from other ownership forms in similar market environments. This paper analyzes characteristics of Catholic, other private nonprofit, and investor-owned hospitals in metropolitan areas of the United States to identify the extent to which Catholic hospitals differ from other ownership types on three dimensions of mission-driven identity--access, stigmatized, and compassionate care services.
When challenged to demonstrate their contributions to the community, Catholic and other not-for-profit hospitals have traditionally reported the sum of their charity care, free programs, and unprofitable services. But critics of tax-exempt healthcare now say this is insufficient and ask such hospitals for descriptions of the outcomes of their contributions. There are seven basic measures for gauging outcomes: participation, mind states, behavior, health status, sickness care utilization, sickness care expenditures, and community value.
Professor Singer and Ms. Johnson Lantz provide a cogent overview of Catholic health care in the United States and address the key issues affecting Catholic health care in the coming years. In particular, (1) clarity in canonical and ethical interpretation; (2) industry consolidation; and (3) "next generation" sponsorship and the impact of these issues are discussed in detail. The authors conclude that successful Catholic health care organizations must maintain strong mission and business fundamentals in an increasingly competitive reimbursement and regulatory environment.
For centuries, the Catholic Church has been a major social actor in the provision of health services, particularly health care delivered in hospitals. Through a confluence of powerful environmental forces at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the future of Catholic health care is threatened. Although Catholic hospitals are a separate case of private, nonprofit hospitals, they have experienced environmental pressures to become isomorphic with other hospital ownership types and, on some dimensions, they are equal.
Some observers may say the timing was preordained. Against the backdrop of Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s mounting woes, the Catholic Health Association, headed by the Rev. Michael Place (left), is expected this week to release a report arguing that Roman Catholic hospitals deserve special and distinct financial concessions from the federal government because of the role they play.
In the biggest deal of its kind, not-for-profit giant Ascension is going to build ambulatory surgery centers with for-profit United Surgical Partners, which already has a deal with Baylor, left. "Hospitals are realizing that outpatient services are the future. This strategy is sound," one healthcare consultant said.
The U.S. Catholic healthcare system is healthy financially, but providers are warily expecting cuts in federal reimbursement. Large systems have worked to become more efficient and profitable, and those efforts are paying off. "We are doing well. We've continued to improve our operating margins," says Kris Zimmer, left, an executive at SSM Health Care.
"Community benefit" is the measurable contribtution made by Catholic and other tax-exempt organizations to support the health needs of disadvantaged persons and to improve the overall health and well-being of local communities. Community benefit activities include outreach to low-income and other vulnerable persons; charity care for people unable to afford services; health education and illness prevention; special health care initiatives for at-risk school children; free or low-cost clinics; and efforts to improve and revitalize communities.
In a time of public scrutiny, it is paramount that Catholic health care organizations examine their commitments to their communities and effectively communicate community benefit activities to stakeholders-employees, physicians, patients, and the public. CHRISTUS Academy, a leadership development program at CHRISTUS Health, Irving, TX, conducted two studies regarding community benefit.