National Health Care leader visits Unity Family Healthcare

(Pictured is Pat Cahill (left) receiving a tour of St. Otto’s Care Center from director of nursing, Jeneva Bellefeuille, and Carl Vaagenes, president/CEO. Submitted photo)

Catholic Health Initiatives is a national health care organization based in Denver, CO, and it is the sponsor of Unity Family Healthcare’s facilities—St. Gabriel’s Hospital, St. Otto’s Care Center, St. Camillus Place, and Alverna Apartments in Little Falls as well as Albany Area Hospital and Medical Center in Albany.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to walk the floors and get to know the people,” Cahill said. “In Denver, you get a little removed from people. But the visit to Elder Heights and being invited in to see one of the residents’ rooms, her photos, and listening and visiting with her was a very rewarding experience for me.”

“I am very impressed with the continuum of care you have available here,” she said. “The combination of hospital, long-term care, home care and the special ministry of working with people with developmental disabilities. You really have it all.”

Although Catholic Health Initiatives was formed just over five years ago, the organization is the second-largest not-for-profit health care system in the country with 63 hospitals and 44 long-term care facilities in 19 states. It’s also not without a legacy, Cahill said.

“CHI is not a rootless organization and it’s not without history. We are an organization that is building upon the legacy of the 12 groups of religious women who make up Catholic Health Initiatives. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls is one of those 12 groups and all you have to do is look at the health care legacy they created here. Over the years, they obviously have responded to the needs of the local community. That’s the kind of legacy we hope to build upon,” she said.

She further emphasized that CHI sees health care as a local service. “Every CHI facility is a community-based organization,” she noted. “We (CHI leadership) believe that it’s important to leave health care delivery in the hands of local people. The local board and administration, in partnership with the community, decide what the local health care system is going to look like. Local leadership has that authority and, as a result, they are both responsible and accountable for the success of the local health system,” she noted.

Cahill sees the local nature of health care delivery as an important attribute of the Catholic Health Initiatives philosophy. The mission and ministry is another fundamental characteristic of that philosophy.

“The people who work in the CHI facilities, delivering care to people in need, are performing the healing ministry of Jesus Christ today. It’s what this health care ministry is all about. It’s also why it’s important to have a mission, and a vision and core values. They help define who we are as an organization and help give the people who work in our facilities a sense of belonging to something important, some important work that God wants done,” said Cahill.

For more information about Catholic Health Initiatives or the local health care facilities, please contact Pat Rioux at St. Gabriel’s Hospital at 632-1209.

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