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 October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Health

NOT long enough: Ebola could lay dormant in the body for longer than 21 days, expert claims Watch

Image of Biology Professor Charles Hass, who has vast experience of analyzing the risk of transmitting biological pathogens, said

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study warns that the recommended 21-day quarantine period for the Ebola virus is not long enough to contain the spread of the disease. While the World Health Organization advises the incubation period for the virus is between two and 21 days, scientists ... continue reading


Nurse says Texas Presbyterian Hospital was chaotic and filthy during Ebola outbreak Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas, reacted very poorly when it discovered that they had been treating a Liberian man with Ebola. According to a nurse who has since come forward, safety regulations were blithely ignored, contaminated linens and waste ... continue reading


Why aren't we doing this? Colombia bans entry to those from Ebola affected countries Watch

Image of A Liberian man is having his temperature taken by a no-contact thermometer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two countries have started barring entry to people coming from the nations in West Africa that have been hardest hit by the current Ebola outbreak. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Kenny Anthony, the prime minister of St. Lucia-a small island nation in the ... continue reading


Second Dallas health worker contracts Ebola virus Watch

Image of Workers scrub down Amber Vinson's apartment in Dallas, Texas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A second Dallas health care worker has since contracted the Ebola virus - and authorities are now frantically trying to contact the more than 100 plus passengers with whom she shared a flight. Authorities says that the employee, Amber Vinson reportedly showed ... continue reading


World has until Christmas to control Ebola; all bets off afterwards Watch

Image of The World Health Organization, or WHO earlier said there could be 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week within two months.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations says the Ebola outbreak must be controlled within 60 days. Otherwise, the world faces an "unprecedented" situation for which there is no plan. Ebola, according to the U.N. "is running faster than us and it is winning the race." LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


The horrifying truth of Ebola: WHO suggests 10,000 could become infected per week Watch

Image of An aid worker carries a child infected with Ebola in Liberia, one of the West African nations hardest hit by the outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a dire warning to the world. On October 14 they announced that the death rate of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now 70%, much higher than usual. Even more horrifying, the WHO has stated that West Africa ... continue reading


Ebola is 'the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times' -- WHO Watch

Image of Ninety percent of economic costs of any outbreak

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Deaths from the currently Ebola epidemic has sailed past the 4,000 mark this week, with the majority of deaths confined to West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the nations most impacted by the disease. But as the first death in the United States from Ebola ... continue reading


Stem cell breakthrough could save diabetics from daily injections Watch

Image of Patients could receive a single transplant with the newly generated cells, which would then read out the amount of sugar in the blood and squirt out just the right amount of the hormone insulin.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists have announced a stem cell breakthrough that could one day free millions of diabetics from a lifetime of insulin injections. Stem cell researcher Douglas Melton has conceived of a method of growing billions of precious insulin-secreting cells en ... continue reading


Safety protocols called into question after first case of Ebola contracted on U.S. soil Watch

Image of More than 4,000 people have died of Ebola since the start of the year usually in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The epidemic appears to be outpacing efforts to fight it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Thomas Duncan from Liberia may have been America's "patient zero" in regards to Ebola, the nurse who treated him that has since fallen ill from the disease represents the first instance of Ebola being contracted on U.S. soil. Health officials, who believe ... continue reading


Texas nurse becomes second U.S. citizen to become infected with Ebola Watch

Image of The CDC has now issued a recommendation that the number of healthcare workers who treat any Ebola patients be kept to an absolute minimum to reduce the chances of exposure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The news is not good. A female nurse who treated America's "patient zero" with the Ebola virus - who later died - has been placed in isolation after testing positive for the disease. She remains at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital under lockdown. The U.S. ... 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, Ephesians 2:1-10
1 And you were dead, through the crimes and the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:13-21
13 A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 20th, 2014 Image

St. Paul of the Cross
October 20: St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of ... 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