January 2000

Catholic Health Initiatives Maintains Mission Focus Amid Financial Challenges


Operations, strategies refined as support of healthy community initiatives grew in 1999

While financial challenges affected Catholic Health Initiatives and the rest of the health care industry throughout 1999, the year saw many accomplishments that were directly related to living the organization’s mission: …to nurture the healing ministry of the Church by bringing it new life, energy and viability in the 21st century. Fidelity to the Gospel urges us to emphasize human dignity and social justice as we move toward the creation of healthier communities. Operations realigned for improved performance Catholic Health Initiatives appointed a new chief operating officer, Kevin E. Lofton, and realigned its operational structure to streamline management and move decision making closer to the market-based organizations. Five senior vice presidents of operations will work directly with clusters of market-based organizations. The realignment included the establishment of a national performance management office. "This resource will prioritize performance improvement requirements and help to identify teams to work with market-based organizations to achieve their operational performance improvement goals," said Lofton. Environmental assessment synthesized research, data and opinions To help leaders throughout the organization cope with the forces buffeting health care in the United States, Catholic Health Initiatives developed the Health Care Environmental Assessment 1999-2001: The Forces Driving Change. "The assessment synthesizes research findings, supporting data and opinions from a wide range of health care sources," said John DiCola, senior vice president of strategy and business development. "It provides our entire organization with a consistent framework for understanding the truly complex issues facing health care in the United States." Core strategies refined Taking another important step in its evolution, Catholic Health Initiatives refined its original six core strategies to four. "These strategies reflect where we must focus our attention and how we must balance the urgent need to improve our operational performance while we pursue the strategic priorities critical for long-term success," said DiCola. The four core strategies are:
  • Extend the creative expression of Catholic Health Initiatives’ Ministry.
  • Improve clinical, operational and financial performance.
  • Build a commitment to service excellence.
  • Promote development/growth in areas of highest strategic opportunity.
Investments made for healthy communities Market-based organizations were instrumental in promoting Catholic Health Initiatives’ Direct Community Investment Program, which helps build healthy communities through low-interest loans to organizations that provide access to jobs, housing, food, education and health care to those in need. The program progressed toward its goal of investing $32 million, or two percent of Catholic Health Initiatives’ operating investment program assets. By the end of 1999, a total of $11.4 million in direct community investments was made in seven different organizations. "The Direct Community Investment Program is one more way that we express Catholic Health Initiatives’ mission and vision by using the financial resources of the organization in a manner that enables us to build healthy communities," said Colleen Scanlon, senior vice president of advocacy. Grants awarded to innovative community health efforts Mission and Ministry Fund grants totaling $2.5 million funded 19 innovative programs that address the emerging and long-term needs of children, adolescents, women, families and communities. The fund is one of the most visible ways Catholic Health Initiatives lives its mission and extends its healing ministry into the life of the communities served by its market-based organizations and sponsoring congregations. Since 1997, the Mission and Ministry Fund has awarded more than $5.75 million to 60 initiatives. Advocacy agenda set for social justice Catholic Health Initiatives began to develop a system-wide advocacy agenda for social justice, health care reform and systemic change in building healthy communities. Catholic Health Initiatives combined its resources with those of organizations such as the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA to act on targeted public policy and regulatory issues. Market-based organizations educated legislators on issues of importance to Catholic health care, forming relationships that will help give them a voice in future legislation. Campaigns countered Medicare payment reductions Catholic Health Initiatives continued to inform policy makers at local, state and national levels of the need for relief from Medicare payment reductions enacted by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Grassroots campaigns conducted by the Denver office and market-based organizations asked key legislators to oppose additional reductions and support restoration of Medicare funding. Clinical effectiveness demonstrates results Achieving measurable continuous improvement in patient outcomes and costs remained a top priority for Catholic Health Initiatives as a growing number of market-based organizations engaged in clinical effectiveness work. In addition, Catholic Health Initiatives formed the Management Assistance Clinic Break Even Team ("Macbeth") to help hospital-owned physician practices achieve break-even budgets. The team has a goal of achieving $25 million in savings for fiscal year 2000. Web site established global presence Catholic Health Initiatives established its presence on the Internet with a national Web site, www.catholichealthinit.org, and began to pilot tools to help market-based organizations create their own high-quality web sites. E-mail linked 20,000 staff members Catholic Health Initiatives also leveraged technology by establishing e-mail links for 20,000 staff members in 22 states. In addition, public folders now allow staff members to share, via e-mail, internal information such as facility directories, policies and press releases, and participate in on-line discussion groups. Employee financial services expanded To help employees plan for retirement and their immediate financial needs, Catholic Health Initiatives’ began developing an employee financial services program designed to offer services ranging from retirement planning assistance to the delivery of consumer services via the Internet. Assessments strengthen mission integration Furthering Catholic Health Initiatives’ mission, the organization began a system-wide assessment of mission integration to affirm market-based organizations’ accomplishments and to identify areas for growth and improvement. "The mission assessment is an instrument that helps us all to be accountable for mission integration in the same way we are accountable for performance in other areas of our business," said Diana Bader, OP, senior vice president for mission. In addition, 70,000 employees completed Catholic Health Initiatives’ core values orientation. Crusade enrolled Medicaid-eligible children Catholic Health Initiatives joined forces with other Catholic health systems, Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA to sponsor Children’s Health Matters, a nationwide crusade to enroll 11 million uninsured children in Medicaid and other health insurance programs. Public service announcements, educational outreach kits and a dedicated Web site (www.childrenshealthmatters.org) supported the program, which dovetailed with President Clinton’s "Insure Kids Now" program. Distinctive culture emerges Catholic Health Initiatives embarked on the development of a distinctive culture that will be critical to meet the opportunities and challenges for the health ministry in the 21st century. Specific tools, information, resources, training and support will help market-based organizations develop their own cultures while preserving the mission, vision and values of Catholic Health Initiatives and its foundresses. Feast days suggested to enhance workplace spirituality Based on the belief that truly spiritual people consistently combine action and contemplation in their daily routines, Catholic Health Initiatives suggested that market-based organizations observe three feast days — World Day of Healing (February 11), Founding of Catholic Health Initiatives (May 1) and Labor Day — to promote workplace spirituality. Market-based organizations and national offices were also encouraged to incorporate individual and group reflection into business meetings and work processes, and to provide occasional retreats that give staff time to reflect on goals and directions. Extensive planning assured Y2K preparedness An enormous Year 2000 planning effort prepared Catholic Health Initiatives and its market-based organizations to maintain standards of patient care and continuity of operations in the event of Y2K-related failures. Market-based organizations developed detailed contingency plans that minimized risks by identifying alternative ways to perform clinical and business functions. As a result, the entire Catholic Health Initiatives organization completed a smooth rollover to the new millennium. Tragedy underscored compassion and professionalism The staff of Centura Health-St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colo., showed extraordinary compassion and professionalism in caring for victims of the shooting at Columbine High School. The staff treated several victims of the tragedy, including four of the most seriously wounded students. Under crisis conditions, their dedication exemplified the true meaning of a healing ministry.