Crucial Health System Financing, Affordable Seniors' Housing—and a Home for Sister Teresa Ann
February 17, 2016 | By: Steven P. Johnson, FACHE
Steven P. Johnson, FACHE, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Susquehanna Health, and Immediate Past Chair of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania Board of Directors
As a health system leader, martialing resources to improve the health and health care of our patients and communities are some of my most important responsibilities.
Turning that challenge into an opportunity to meet the sometimes competing needs of all those we serve gives meaning to my job, and great personal satisfaction to me. The story of the Sisters of Christian Charity is one of the successes that keeps me going.
The Sisters are an important part of our history and mission. One of their own, Sister Mary Theresilla Hills, led the effort in 1945 to establish Divine Providence Hospital, now part of Susquehanna Health. The order supports and promotes the health of our communities through direct service ministry in nursing, rehabilitation, pastoral care, and financial services.
During 2008, Susquehanna Health needed to make big investments to modernize and keep pace with rapid changes in health care technology and delivery. The Sisters supported the governance changes we needed to help secure financing for upgrades and renovations at our hospitals and nursing homes.
In return, Susquehanna Health pledged to help the Sisters with their own financial challenge, and their own need for investment. Their too-large, 60-year old convent needed significant repairs. Renovations would cost an estimated $5 million.
The same resourcefulness that secured capital to modernize our health system helped us find the resources to transform the convent into a home worthy of the Sisters—and more.
We sold the unused convent to a developer who planned to convert it into middle market housing. The City of Williamsport provided assistance. And we made sure to reserve many of the new apartments for the Sisters.
Sister Teresa Ann and the 13 other Sisters of Christian Charity love their familiar, but thoroughly renovated, home next to their beloved chapel. The developer appreciates having such excellent tenants; the city welcomes the additional, high-quality, affordable housing.
Susquehanna Health thanks the Sisters for their many contributions, including the important role they played in helping to modernize our health system during a time of great change. We are thrilled that they can continue their work from their own modernized facility, their “new” convent. What was a $5 million problem is now a revitalized community asset.