On April 24, 2018, Roseville, California-based Adventist Health announced their plan to integrate clinical activities and services through a new joint operating company with St. Joseph Health. The new organization will be made up of five Adventist Health hospitals and Home Health services and four St. Joseph Health hospitals, Home Health, and Hospice Care. Through this agreement, Adventist Health will further its unique mission and better serve the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged across a very large portion of Northern California. Spectrum connected with Adventist Health CEO Scott Reiner to help our readers better understand what this means for the Adventist Health mission.
Question: What are the market forces that are pushing hospitals to consolidate?
Answer: Hospitals are coming together in creative ways at an unprecedented pace throughout the country. This is happening because the rising costs of healthcare in our country are unsustainable, and hospitals are seeking ways to deliver increased access to affordable healthcare, increased patient satisfaction, extraordinary quality, and mission fulfillment in all we do. We must increase the value that hospitals and related services provide to our communities, and accomplishing this is more efficient and cost-effective in partnership with other organizations. To be clear, this proposed partnership is a joint operating agreement. That means that each organization owns its own facilities, employs its own employees, and is responsible to deliver on its own mission while working together to accomplish joint goals.
How is this market-driven and how is this mission-driven?
Our mission is the reason we exist. Living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope is the purpose that drives our goals, our plans, and our decisions. Market forces may affect HOW we accomplish our mission, but the mission will not be compromised. Market demands will require us to continue to be creative in how we increase the value of our services, and at the same time we are fully committed to being a mission-driven organization.
What do Adventists and Catholics have in common?
I am a life-long Adventist and the son of an Adventist pastor. I understand that there are important and distinct differences between the Adventist and the Catholic faith traditions. I also know that there are things we have in common with our brothers and sisters in other faiths. I have the privilege of engaging with some of the most wonderful people from many faiths who dedicate their life work to relieving suffering, serving God’s children without regard to their ability to pay, and advocating for the disadvantaged. I have found that our friends at St. Joseph Health share our values, and they share a commitment to being a continuation of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Nearly one-third of all Californians rely on Medi-Cal to afford them access to healthcare, and meeting the needs of this population requires intentional strategies that are more effective in a broader network than we currently have. Both Adventist Health and St. Joseph Health share a commitment to expanding our individual missions through working together to serve more people.
How does this affect Adventist Health employees?
Adventist Health employees will continue to be employed by Adventist Health, and employees of St. Joseph Health will likewise remain employed by St. Joseph Health.
Adventist health care has done several of these affiliation agreements in Colorado, Illinois, and Texas — what has Adventist Health learned from these?
It’s true that this type of partnership is not without precedent. Three Adventist Health System hospitals are partners in a joint operating agreement with Catholic Health Initiatives, forming Centura Health. Similarly, Amita Health was formed in the greater Chicago area when Adventist Health System and Alexian Brothers came together in a joint operating agreement. We have learned that we can work cooperatively and respectfully with people from other faith traditions while pursuing common goals, and at the same time fulfill our unique mission.
What was persuasive about this partnership to the board?
The Adventist Health board studied this proposed partnership thoughtfully, thoroughly, and prayerfully. They agreed that St. Joseph Health is the ideal partner in this region of Adventist Health because our missions are aligned and our geographic locations and services complement each other. Our work together will allow us to serve more people, increase access points to health services, and provide a more coordinated network of care that will improve health outcomes. The board believes that we can expand our mission further through this partnership than we could achieve if working alone.
When do you expect to hear whether this affiliation will be approved?
This partnership requires regulatory review from the California Attorney General. We expect that process to take several months.
Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.
Photo courtesy of Adventist Health.
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