August 10, 2009

System announces new leadership at St. Vincent Charity Hospital

Cleveland, Ohio (Aug. 10, 2009)­­ – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The Boards of the Sisters of Charity Health System and the Cuyahoga Joint Venture today announce a change in the leadership structure at St. Vincent Charity Hospital. Under this new structure, the Sisters of Charity Health System will directly manage St. Vincent Charity Hospital with Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, president and CEO of the health system also serving as the president and CEO of the hospital.

In collaboration with St. Vincent leadership, medical staff and caregivers, the team will move forward a new strategic vision for the hospital, developing its campus, medical staff, clinical technology and off-site network of health facilities while continuing its more than 144 years of faith-based, high-quality health care service to this community. This new leadership structure also will allow for improved efficiencies, reduced costs and access to system-level executive expertise.

Additionally, as a result of the restructuring, the Sisters of Charity Health System announces the promotion of Joan K. Ross as chief operating officer for St. Vincent. Ross comes to St. Vincent from Providence Hospitals based in Columbia, South Carolina, where she served as senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer since 2006. Providence Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in 1938 through mortgaging their motherhouse in Lakewood and is now the leading cardiovascular center in South Carolina. At Providence, Ross developed a culture of patient safety by eliminating silos and enhancing communication across departments.

As the COO, Ross will be responsible for daily operations at St. Vincent Charity Hospital and report to Sister Judith Ann Karam. “We are excited about the dedication to high-quality patient care and service excellence that Joan will bring to St. Vincent and look forward to having her on our leadership team,” says Karam. “She has exhibited a dedication to patient care centered on compassion, respect and accountability.”

“St. Vincent has a long-standing tradition of providing quality health care as a part of the Cleveland community,” said Ross. “I embrace Sister Judith Ann’s vision for St. Vincent’s and look forward to helping to lead the renaissance. I have developed a deep fondness for the core values on which we base our delivery of care to our patients,” she said. “It is because of this commitment to patient care, which I value greatly, that I have accepted this new role within the Sisters of Charity Health System.”

A native of Lorain, Ohio, Ross returns to Northeast Ohio after having spent most of her 25-year career in nursing and health care administration at hospitals in Columbus, Virginia and at Providence. “I grew up in Northeast Ohio and am excited to return to the community where my father, siblings and extended family still live,” said Ross. She will assume her new role on Sept. 14. 

With the restructuring of the president and CEO position, Jeffrey S. Jeney will be leaving the organization after years of service to both St. Luke Medical Center and St. Vincent Charity Hospital. Although Mr. Jeney was offered other positions within the health system, he chose to leave to pursue other options in his career. Under his leadership, the hospital most recently opened a new state-of-the-art Emergency Department and a year ago completed a new specialized Psychiatric Emergency Department, one of only two in the state of Ohio. He and the Capital Campaign Committee exceeded the goal for raising dollars needed for these two projects. St. Vincent was recently given a Premier Award for Quality, ranking it in the top one percent of hospitals nationally for quality.

“We are thankful for Jeff’s faith-filled commitment to the mission of the Sisters of Charity Health System and his focus on high-quality, compassionate care for all over his years of service,” said Karam. “Through all of his years of service, his care for our hospital family was outstanding.  We regret deeply his departure from our healthcare system and wish him the very best in his future.”

Currently, St. Vincent Charity Hospital is a part of the joint venture between the Sisters of Charity Health System and University Hospitals of Cleveland. In March of this year, the two Members announced the signing of a nonbinding letter of intent to restructure the assets of the joint venture which, when finalized, will result in the Sisters of Charity Health System becoming the sole  Member of St. Vincent Charity Hospital and Mercy Medical Center in Canton. The two Members of the current joint venture will continue their present Member relationship at St. John West Shore Hospital in Westlake under the management of University Hospitals of Cleveland.

The transaction to restructure the assets of the joint venture is expected to close by the end of this year. Since April, by agreement of the joint venture and its Board, the Sisters of Charity Health System has taken an active role in planning the strategic vision for the future of St. Vincent Charity Hospital. A similar arrangement is in effect for University Hospitals of Cleveland at St. John West Shore Hospital.

The president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System and St. Vincent Charity Hospital, Karam has served in health care since 1962 as Pharmacy Technician, Pharmacist and health care administrator and as CEO of hospitals in Cleveland, Canton and South Carolina.  She has been President and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System since July 1998. A Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, she serves in numerous health care and community roles. She is a 1986 graduate of Leadership Cleveland and served nine years on the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.

Since 1851, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine have been serving the Cleveland community becoming the first public health nurses visiting the sick in their homes. In 1865, they founded St. Vincent Charity Hospital, where the first open-heart surgery was performed in the Midwest. Today, St. Vincent is home to the outstanding Spine and Orthopedic Institute, Center for Bariatric Surgery, Joslin Diabetes Center, behavioral health services community outreach services, “medical home” delivery model for urban health care and graduate medical education programs in Internal Medicine, General Dentistry and Podiatric Surgery. 

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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