Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year

Like in years past, as 2011 unfolds, the CHRISTUS family will again experience many blessings and face numerous challenges. As we prepare to celebrate the 12th birthday of the CHRISTUS Health ministry on Feb. 1, 2011, we should all pause not only to reflect on our accomplishments, but also embrace the clear action plans which will be necessary to address and hopefully mitigate future challenges.

Truly, our blessings have been many:
• Our culture is alive and well, seen in the lived experiences of our Associates, physicians, and volunteers, who daily are driven by our mission, vision and values.
• Our brand is strong and well-recognized, both internally and externally, built around our 4 directions on our Journey to Excellence.
• Our business literacy has achieved the highest performance metrics in our history, including days in cash, operating margin, investment income, labor and supply costs, and accounts receivable.
• Our community benefit contributions continue to maintain a leadership position among Catholic and not-for-profit health care providers, both in the U.S. and Mexico.
• Our futures planning process, including Futures Task Force II, which completed its work in 2009, has positioned us well for health care reform based on the identification of 3 strategic drivers, 5 strategic directions and 8 strategic enablers to guide us through the next decade.
• Our support and learnings from important improvement initiatives begun in 2010 which will continue in 2011, including: Medicare profitability, labor productivity, asset sales, physician integration, evidence-based clinical protocol development, stringent capital review process, revenue cycle enhancement, supply chain improvements, clinical information upgrades, refinement of continuing care and non-acute strategies, and clarification of international strategies.

Yes, with all of these blessings and accomplishments resulting from much hard work and effort from all members of the CHRISTUS family, we are positioned well for the continuation of our Journey to Excellence in the new year. But because of the complexity of health care, which only seems to increase, we will also have to face again some significant challenges. Because it is the right thing to do, we must embrace the positive innovations embedded in health care reform and transform CHRISTUS Health totally from a claims/payer system mentality which drives fragmented care, to a value-added partner mentality, with our patients and residents supporting seamless coordination of care. Fortunately, the initiatives articulated above, which are well under way, should address or significantly minimize the challenges which clearly are forthcoming. However, to be successful, we will have to embrace even more change and do everything possible to accelerate our Journey to Excellence for the continued success of our ministries.

Based on our effective team effort, we are strong today so as to be able to stand alone as a sustainable health care business model into the future. In addition, because of our significant growth over the last 12 years, we have the size and scale to create and finance further growth plans that can thrive in each of our ministries in our acute, non-acute and international divisions.

Facing and addressing challenges is nothing new for us. For the last 12 years of CHRISTUS Health--and for the entire 144 years since the founding congregations answered Bishop Dubuis’ call in 1865--we have faced fires, floods, epidemics and hurricanes. Although they have occasionally slowed our journey, we have been able to overcome each of them, learning from these experiences and renewing our energy and enthusiasm to continue our forward momentum. Such will be the case also in 2011.

Each of us is truly blessed to have answered the call and to continue to serve in our sacred ministry, CHRISTUS Health. In this new year, the successes will even be greater, and the challenges will be different, but most importantly, the call will remain the same: to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus.

So as we travel toward a new year, let us pray that it will be filled with much peace and happiness for all who enter our doors, for all members of the CHRISTUS family and their loved ones, and for those throughout the world who suffer hardships and pain. Let us ask for the strength necessary to use our hands and hearts effectively, to replace as much of these sufferings with our miracle moments. Happy New Year to you all.

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