Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/24/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sister Mary Jean Ryan, nun and CEO retires, marking the end of an era in Catholic healthcare.

It's a sign of the times. Sister Mary Jean Ryan, one of the last CEO's in the church from a religious community, has retired from her post as the head of SSM Health Care, a group of charitable Catholic hospitals. In 1970, virtually every Catholic hospital in the United States was overseen by clergy or religious. Today, that number is down to 8. 

Sister Mary Jean Ryan of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, is the last nun to serve as CEO of a Catholic hospital in the United States. She retired on August 1st.

Sister Mary Jean Ryan of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, is the last nun to serve as CEO of a Catholic hospital in the United States. She retired on August 1st.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/24/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Sister Mary Jean Ryan, SSM Health Care, Catholic Hospitals


ST LOUIS, MO (Catholic Online) - Sister Mary Jean Ryan started her career as a nurse in 1968. Working under other staff who were members of religious communities, she performed her duties being continuously promoted until she became SSM Health Care's first CEO in 1986.

Her personal drive to provide quality care to patients throughout the system has earned her the title of, "one of the most powerful people in health care," according to Modern Healthcare Magazine, as well as several prestigious awards and honors. While she continues to write, speak publicly, and to chair several boards of directors, her retirement is a reminder of the growing influence of the laity in the church, as ordered ministries decline. 

Nearly every modern Catholic hospital in the nation was established by a religious order. Until the 1970's, those orders maintained a firm grasp on their hospitals, running them as charitable institutions. One in six Americans are treated in these facilities each year, often without the ability to pay.

However, as lay businesspeople take up the mantle of leadership, the question remains if those institutions will continue in their tradition of charity, or if they too will succumb to the seductive prevailing culture of profits that has made multi-millionaires out of hospital executives. In 2008, Catholic hospitals generated revenues of $30 billion dollars, but had expenses of $85 billion which includes nearly $6 billion in charity--a shortfall of $55 billion dollars.

The Catholic tradition of healthcare is long and storied. Dating back to the medieval period, the Church has always provided medical care to those who could least afford it. The earliest hospitals were as much for the sick as they were for the poor and homeless. In America, orders of monks and nuns, often from Europe, founded the first Catholic hospitals.

This tradition continued unabated, until recently, when vocations began their sharp decline in the US. As the decline in vocations continued from the 1960's to the present day, the laity has replaced clergy and members of religious communities at every level. Today, only 8 of the 59 Catholic health care systems are overseen by clergy or members of religious orders.

The mood of the sisters in the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, Sister Mary Jean's order, is understandably downcast, but resigned. In a recent interview, Sister Mary Jean stated, "We can't be maudlin about this, I mean, yes, we are a dying breed. We are disappearing from the face of the earth and all of that. That being said, perhaps this is a moment for people to acknowledge the contribution that has been made by women religious throughout our history in the United States."

Concern however, is directed towards the patients who will invariably receive care in Catholic hospitals. Will the quality of care be the same under lay leadership as it was under ordained leadership? Will the church's emphasis on the sanctity of life always be upheld over profits? Will the hospitals eventually become so secularized as to be "catholic" only in name? 

Thus far, the answer has been, yes. Sister Mary Jean Ryan has set an example by turning away doctors and other business arrangements that would not be of benefit to the poor such as those on Medicaid. Charitable care is still given in Catholic hospitals, and abortions are not performed.

Although Sister Mary Jean Ryan will no longer be directing the day-to-day business of SSM Health Care, she will continue to speak and be listened to. She has co-authored two books on the business and ethics healthcare and  she continues to travel and give lectures on the importance of providing safe, quality care to all patients. And as long as she continues her tireless work, the tradition of the Church will remain to the benefit of all who are weary and wont of care.


---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Health

GROSS! This was in his brain for four years! Watch

Image of A type of parasitic tapeworm, just a little over 0.3 inches in length, burrowed its way through the brain of a British man for four years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In what has to be one of the most bizarre cases in recent medical history, a series of brain scans have been made which charts the path of a tiny parasitic tapeworm as it burrows its way through the brain of a British man. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Obesity: It isn't just deadly, but each year it costs the globe TWO TRILLION! Watch

Image of Obesity is the third largest economic burden on the world, just $.1 trillion behind the costs of smoking and war and terrorism.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It should come as no surprise to anyone that terrorism and war hurt the global economy. What is incredible is that just behind them in terms of actual cost is smoking, and obesity. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new report from the economic consulting firm ... continue reading


Creation of John Paul II Medical Research Institute

By Alan B. Moy, MD

The Catholic Church has a long-standing history in health care, education and medical research. The Church was the first during the Middle Ages to create the university system and medical centers. Some of the early scientists were clergymen like Gregor Mendel, who was ... continue reading


Welcome to the horrifying future where women are used and abortion rampant Watch

Image of In the future, according to one dire prediction, babies will come from test tubes and sex will be purely for recreation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The professor and chemist who invented the birth control pill has now claimed that advances in IVF will render the pill obsolete allowing people to plan pregnancies and engage in sex for recreational purposes only. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Prof. Carl ... continue reading


Eat healthy, exercise and take statins - and live to be 120 years old Watch

Image of A

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While immortality still remains out of reach by scientific standards, some scientists now say they have worked out how we could make it to 120. Exercising more, eating healthy and taking statins they claim are key to slowing the aging process. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Dignity Health loses moral compass, settles overcharge scandal for $37 million Watch

Image of Catholic facilities, built and supported by Catholics, should remain Catholic.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The San Francisco-based Dignity Health hospital chain has agreed to pay a $37 million settlement to clear up allegations that they overcharged patients between 2006 and 2010. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dignity Health, a chain of 13 hospitals that was built by ... continue reading


'Elite controllers' claim that they can spontaneously 'cure' HIV Watch

Image of AIDS/HIV remains a scourge throughout the African continent and homosexual men in urban areas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's another claim made by researchers about a disease that continues to devastate the world. Scientists say they have uncovered the genetic mechanism which appeared to have led two HIV-infected men to experience a "spontaneous cure - and that the discovery ... continue reading


Sierra Leone sees Ebola cases 'spreading quickly' Watch

Image of There have been 2,413 Ebola deaths in Liberia, 1,510 in Sierra Leone, 1,018 in Guinea and eight in Nigeria.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While in other parts of West Africa, new Ebola cases appear to be tapering off, new cases continue to rise "frighteningly quickly" in areas of Sierra Leone. The international campaign group the Africa Governance Initiative, or AGI found that in rural parts of ... continue reading


'Hyper-connected' brain created by popular hallucinogen 'Magic Mushrooms' Watch

Image of Some magic mushroom users have reported tasting colors, seeing noises or feeling smells.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A popular, if illegal natural hallucinogen, "magic mushrooms" inspired the art and music of the hippie counter-cultural generation. Scientists now claim they are closer to understanding why magic mushrooms cause people to have such intense creative and even ... continue reading


Convenient and easy! Why your next trip to the dentist could prove a lifesaver Watch

Image of A new study out of UCLA has shown that genetic molecules that can signal an early warning for certain diseases can actually be found in saliva as well as blood.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Soon, dentists may be able to test for diseases such as cancer, dementia, Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes or even auto-immune diseases, a new report from the University of California Los Angeles, has revealed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. David Wong, the ... continue reading


All Health News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter