Catholic Health East
President's Letter















Judith M. Persichilli
President and CEO
November 2010

In the fall of 1621, the English colonists we now know as Pilgrims held a feast with the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest. It is the day that most historians have come to recognize as America’s first Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims had come to the New World just seven months before. They had experienced great hardships, braving a long sea voyage and exceedingly harsh winter. Of the 110 people who came over on the Mayflower, less than 50 survived that first winter in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Those colonists who did survive were thankful for their blessings…and looked forward to better days ahead.

That day in the distant past – some 155 years BEFORE America became a nation – is now commemorated each year on the fourth Thursday of each November. It was first proclaimed a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, when our nation was in the midst of the Civil War. Families throughout the North and South were suffering unimaginable losses in a war that seemingly had no end. It was a terribly painful chapter in our nation’s history. Yet the nation paused to give thanks for their blessings.

It is significant that America’s first Thanksgiving in 1621…and the nation’s first national celebration of Thanksgiving in 1863…both have their roots in hardship and tough times. It is significant that people who had so little chose to give thanks for what they had, instead of focusing on what they did not have, or what they had lost.

We can all take heed from the lessons of Thanksgivings past. Like the Pilgrims of 1621 and our countrymen from 1863, the America of 2010 is, for many, a tough and unforgiving place to live. We are still working through our nation’s biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Millions of our citizens are unemployed, and millions more have or will face the loss of their homes because they simply can’t afford them anymore. And despite progress that has been made on national health reform, more than 30 million people are without health insurance.

The health care industry is facing tough times. Reimbursement cuts, increased costs for state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and IS infrastructure, our unending quest for improving quality and patient safety, increased competition…these and other forces impact upon our ability to meet all of the needs of those who seek our aid. Within CHE, these forces have caused several of our ministries to undergo transformations that will allow them to better meet community needs. Many of our organizations have had to make painful decisions over the last year…about programs…about services…and about people.

Yet, despite the hardships and challenges that we all face, I cannot help but count our blessings.

I am thankful for our board members for their vision, wisdom, and words of encouragement. We are blessed to have so many selfless individuals give of their time and talents to help our ministries make a difference in the lives of the people of their communities.

I am thankful for our dedicated leaders throughout CHE, who are able to balance the clinical and operational needs of today while strategizing and planning for the challenges of tomorrow.

I am thankful for all of our clinicians, whose energy and expertise are helping us to prepare for the world of electronic health records and meaningful use and clinical transformation. It is the day-to-day contributions of the nurses and physicians and pharmacists and therapists and technicians in the field who, while they maintain their bedside responsibilities, are making a difference though their contributions to our ACT and CareLink initiatives - one order set at a time.

I am thankful for all of our support staff throughout our RHCs and JOAs– from the housekeepers who ensure that our guests have clean rooms to the dietary colleagues who cook and serve patient and resident meals to the clerks who enter data. These people – and so many more – touch the lives of our patients and residents and make a positive difference every day.

I am thankful for all of our system office staff, whose jobs are dedicated to supporting our colleagues at the local level. While you may not get the opportunity to see and touch our patients and residents directly, please know that your daily focus on delivering quality and service to your internal customers is recognized, needed and appreciated.

I am thankful for the tens of thousands of volunteers, auxilians and donors who have a special calling to lend their hands, their hearts, and their pocketbooks to those in need throughout our ministry. God bless you for the many ways that you reach out to help and support those in need.

I am thankful for the patients and residents who place their trust…and their lives…in the capable hands of our caregivers.

I am thankful for the many partnerships and positive working relationships we have throughout our ministry – with vendors who supply our colleagues and facilities with the supplies and tools needed to improve and save lives…with other health care organizations and caregivers with whom we have important referral relationships…and with civic leaders, elected officials, and government agencies with whom we work together to best meet the needs of our communities.

And I am especially thankful for our Sponsors for their leadership, guidance, and inspiration. Like the early settlers of our nation, many of our foundresses were themselves pioneers; they came to this country with little more than grit, determination and faith. Faith that they could help make their little corner of the world a better place. Faith that, together, they could make a better life for those in need. Faith that the educational, social and health services they initiated would make a difference.

Yes, even in challenging times, we all have a great deal for which to be thankful.

I thank all of you for being faithful stewards of the resources entrusted to us, and for your tireless efforts in support of your local ministry, your colleagues, and your patients and residents. Best wishes and prayers for a safe, healthy and joyous Thanksgiving!

Sincerely yours,
Judith M. Persichilli
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Catholic Health East

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