By STAFF     8/8/2015

St. Joseph Health, in a joint announcement with Providence Health and Services, last week announced their intention to bring the two organizations together into one new entity. The proposed partnership, say executives from both groups, will strengthen their offering to the communities they serve.

While there are many details to be worked out regarding the new arrangement, the initiative is consistent with the missions of both organizations – to serve the healthcare needs of the poor and marginalized and to promote community health.

For St. Joseph Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare delivery system founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and committed to carrying on their mission, this plan builds on a 100-year history of service. It is clear the good work by the health system continues today. St. Joseph Health is looking to the patron of their founders, Saint Joseph the Worker; and is rolling up its sleeves for what looks to be the next phase of growth in their mission to serve.

“What’s core to us is continually improving the health and quality of life of people in the community we serve,” said Gabriela Robles, vice president of Community Partnerships. “That’s in our mission statement, drawn from the charism of the sisters, and we really try to live that out.”

The health care ministry has evolved into a 16-hospital system that now extends to home healthcare, hospice care, outpatient services and community outreach programs.

“In 1986 we wanted to ensure our hospitals and commitments went beyond the hospital walls,” said Robles. “We set up the Community Partnership fund whereby every year each one of our hospitals contributes 10 percent of their net income to the fund – and through that fund we award grants to nonprofits in the community and fund our hospitals’ care for the poor program.”

This past fiscal year, St. Joseph Health invested some $416 million in Community Benefit.Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, for example, allocated $21 million in 2014 to its financial assistance (traditional charity care) program, the unpaid cost of public programs such as MediCal, and key community benefit programs, supporting such outreach efforts as family resource centers and the Camino Health Center. St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton committed $47.5 million to similar medical care assistance and community benefit programs. A portion of these funds helped support St. Jude Neighborhood Health Centers, programs that aim to reduce obesity and the Community Care Navigator – an assistance program for the homeless.

Providence Health and Services and their founders share a rich history of service and faith as well. If the partnership between the two mission-driven enterprises moves forward, the strength and commitment of the new entity will further the ability for both groups to deliver on their mission of service to those in need.