Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Celebrating CHRISTUS Health's 10th Anniversary

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?” It is like a mustard seed, which a person took and planted in their garden. It grew, became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” ~Luke 13: 18-19

Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of CHRISTUS Health, which we have come to know as CHRISTUS Day. As we recall the formation of our health system 10 years ago when the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston joined their health care ministries, it is important to not only reflect and honor our past history, but to celebrate our many accomplishments and to recognize our Associates for bringing CHRISTUS through the past decade.

The theme of our 10th anniversary commemoration, “Celebrate The Journey. Transform Our Future.” is being graphically depicted by a tree to symbolize CHRISTUS Health’s strong roots from a seed planted by the sisters and all of their partners in ministry throughout the years. Our 10 years of growth have produced many branches, a multitude of leaves and plentiful fruit.

Associates, physicians, volunteers and board members in all CHRISTUS regions, including the Dallas system office and Houston and San Antonio system support centers, were invited to participate in local CHRISTUS Day prayer services, marked by the sharing of scriptures, reflection and a closing invitation for each Associate to write his or her name on the front of a vinyl leaf, along with a personal gift which they offer for the continued growth of the ministry of CHRISTUS Health. The attendees are then invited to affix their leaf to a banner bearing the likeness of a tree.

So as we filled our CHRISTUS “Trees” with leaves, we were able to witness a visible sign of God’s blessing on our ministry.

In this challenging economic time and when all of us, both our regional and corporate services operations, are working diligently to reduce expenses and operate as efficiently as possible, we were ever mindful of the need to be as frugal and prudent as possible when planning this CHRISTUS Day.

Following is a summary of the system Communications/Marketing and Mission/ Spiritual Care departments’ plans to bring creativity and inspiration to local celebrations in each region as well as a sense of enthusiasm, excitement and recommitment on the part of our Associates, physicians, volunteers and boards to upholding the CHRISTUS Mission and Core Values:

• Simple yet meaningful programs that could be used – if the regions desired – for local prayer services;
• The creation of a five-minute DVD/Video using largely existing footage of Associates and internal voice-over talent. This was provided in DVD format for use at meetings and special events, but was also made available via a Web link for internal use;
• The design of simple materials to augment local celebrations (banners, balloons); posters and tabletop display inserts were also offered as optional items;
• The design of some external tools such as ads that can be used also in internal newsletters – that were, again optional, for the region; and
• Other electronic promotions that were designed and implemented by the system Communications/Marketing department including a special newsletter edition and an online version of the video on the intranet site. In addition, a special e-mail from me will be distributed to all Associates later this week.

Ten years ago, both communities of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word realized that ministering together is better than ministering on parallel paths. By coming together, they planted the seed which became CHRISTUS Health. Just a decade later, the tree has grown from the tenth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. to the sixth largest. The system has also flourished internationally with the strong CHRISTUS Muguerza branch in Mexico.

We who gathered to mark this tenth anniversary paused to reflect on this growth which has resulted from the seeds planted by the sisters, originally, and by each of us as we have traveled together for this last 10 years.

Needless to say, our journey is not over; in fact, in many ways, we have only started. As long as there are people who lack access to adequate health care services, our faith-based ministry has a role. And, as the psalmist, we can be confident as we face the future: “Planted in the house of the Lord, we shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

Answering the Call for Our Second Decade

While we are celebrating our 10th birthday, we should reflect upon our rich heritage that spans more than 140 years of continuous response to our founding call: “Our Lord Jesus Chris suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.”

Together, we have journeyed through 10 years of challenges and changes, while creating significant and measurable progress. During these 10 years, CHRISTUS Health has grown:
• From 23,000 to 30,000 full, part-time and per diem Associates;
• From 5,500 to 9,000 physicians on medical staffs throughout our system;
• From 1,000 to 1,5000 volunteers;
• From CHRISTUS services or affiliated services in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Utah, expanding into Iowa, Missouri, Georgia, and New Mexico in the U.S.; and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, and Tamaulipas in Mexico.
• To include almost 350 medical facilities and services, encompassing hospitals, clinics and outpatient centers, long-term care facilities and other health care ministries throughout the U.S. and in Mexico.

Although we have grown and accomplished much, we will still continue to face challenges and be required to make more changes in the future. As we embark upon our second decade as the CHRISTUS Family, we also must again reaffirm our commitment to answer Bishop Claude DuBuis’ call seeking help for those who were suffering.

Each CHRISTUS Day, we go back to this heritage as to a fountain from which we draw strength and inspiration. As guardians of our heritage, let us celebrate and pass along the rich legacy which has been entrusted to each of us! Let us pray to have the strength and persistence to do this sacred work in an excellent way and finally, may we have the enthusiasm and the commitment to continue to accelerate our Journey to Excellence so the trust that each family has who turns the life of their loved ones over to us is truly deserved.

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