The largest Catholic health system last week announced several executive changes in a push to strengthen its hospitals competitively.
Most notably, Daughters of Charity National Health System created the position of senior vice president for system direction and policy.
The St. Louis-based system of 41 hospitals needs to expand its systemwide strategic planning, said Donald Brennan, its president. In large part, it has relied on individual members to analyze market changes, but such issues as physician integration call for more coordinated scrutiny, he said.
Daughters of Charity also wants a bigger role in state and national healthcare policy debates. It will continue its membership in the Catholic Health Association and the American Hospital Association, but "somebody has to provide specifics," Brennan said. "What is the impact of welfare reform on Daughters of Charity? If you're going to be at the table, you've got to bring ideas to the table."
To a degree, the reorganization represents the reawakening of Daughters of Charity as a national system. Recently, it has focused on linking its stand-alone hospitals with other Catholic facilities to build regional delivery systems, instead of developing the resources of the national system.
The changes also reflect the influence of managed-care initiatives on Brennan's thinking. In many markets, the growth of managed care has led both health plans and providers to take a broader view of healthcare than a single illness or hospitalization.
Daughters of Charity plans to create a senior vice president position for program development "to look at new ways of delivering care," Brennan said. "I could see this focus ranging from better management of disease to pilot programs looking for better ways to organize care."
Brennan, 59, joined Daughters of Charity in 1996 after a stint on the Washington state healthcare reform commission and nearly 20 years at Sisters of Providence Health System and Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, both based in Seattle.
The changes take effect March 1. Lawrence Prybil, 56, head of Daughters of Charity's east central region, will become the strategic planning executive. He'll be moving from that region's office in Evansville, Ind., to St. Louis. The program development position hasn't been filled.
Daughters of Charity also gave its three regional executives the title of senior vice president and elevated the function of mission and leadership development to senior vice president level.