This month marks our second anniversary as Providence St. Joseph Health, and I couldn’t be prouder of how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. As we celebrate the two-year mark, I want to take a moment to thank the 118,000 caregivers who work across our family of organizations and make our healing ministry possible.
Thanks to you, we have increased access to care just as we said we would. In the first six months of this year alone, we have already served 6 percent more people than we did the previous year. We also rolled out a powerful new mission statement, crafted with input from more than 60,000 caregivers, and are pursuing a transformative strategic plan to realize our vision of health for a better world.
When we formed PSJH in 2016, we identified mental health as the signature issue that we would work on together. The Well Being Trust, which we established as a national foundation, quickly hit the ground running and has been incredibly active on initiatives and partnerships to advance the mental, social and spiritual well-being of the nation as you'll see from this annual report.
Even with all the positive momentum, this is a time of unprecedented change in health care. The feeling of uncertainty and disruption can be overwhelming. As a deeply mission-driven organization, we are called to be a steadfast presence in the world, and I believe there are six ways we can respond and evolve with the times while continuing to lead with our values.
1. Care for our caregivers – The people who care for our patients are our greatest assets. We must continue to support all of you in bringing your best selves to work every day so you can contribute your gifts and talents to those we serve.
2. Care for our communities – We have long been a trusted pillar in our communities, and we must continue to play that leadership role especially in challenging times. From the opioid epidemic and the mental health crisis to mass violence and natural disaster, our communities count on us to respond to these events and provide leadership in times of greatest need.
3. Innovate with the times – The digital age is upon us, and we can no longer deny it. It’s time to bring health care into the 21st century. We have an unparalleled opportunity to improve access and service by delivering care when and where people want it whether it’s on their mobile device, a laptop, at their neighborhood drug store or in their homes. Our founding congregations of sisters were never afraid to shake things up to improve the lives of those we serve. We shouldn’t shy away from it either.
4. Focus on clinical excellence – Every community we serve deserves the highest standard of care, whether it’s Kodiak, Alaska, Lubbock, Texas, or Los Angeles. We must relentlessly work to promulgate best, evidence-based clinical practice and reduce variation across the country. We must also streamline our systems of care to ensure individuals in remote areas have access to the care they need.
5. Forge partnerships – Our founding sisters have a long tradition of partnering with those of good will to meet the needs of our communities. Going forward, this spirit of collaboration will need to include nontraditional partners to help us improve the way we deliver care. We will need outside experts in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, for example, to harness the power of data to help clinicians and patients make more informed decisions about their health.
6. Communicate and advocate – As Pope Francis has said, health care is a universal human right, not a privilege. We must continue to advocate for health care for all and use our collective voice to preserve Medicaid, which covers many of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. We must also continue to be a voice for the voiceless, including immigrants, victims of human trafficking and the health of the planet.
Columnist Tom Friedman recently wrote that, in this age of accelerated change, communities must be anchored in strong values. He likens it to being in the eye of a hurricane, which “moves along with the storm, draws energy from it, while creating a sanctuary of stability inside it. It is both dynamic and stable—and so must we be,” he writes. At PSJH, we are called to do the same. By staying centered in our values, we will lead our communities through this highly transformational period while continuing to be a source of hope and healing in the world.