On February 2, 2016, LifePoint Health and the Sisters of Charity Health System announced that the acquisition of Providence Hospitals by LifePoint Health was complete. In joining LifePoint, Providence will continue to operate in a manner consistent with the identity of a Catholic hospital, as it has since its founding in 1938 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.
As Providence moves forward, our own Sister Mary Jacob Yelcho CSA, a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, offers the following reflection, which was published by The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina.
GUEST COLUMN BY SISTER MARY JACOB YELCHO, CSA
Published by THE STATE, February 7, 2016
In print and online at http://www.thestate.com/opinion/op-ed/article58731453.html
COLUMBIA, SC - As LifePoint Health takes ownership of Providence Hospitals, I want to express my thanks to everyone at Providence and in the community who worked hand in hand with me and many members of the Sisters of Charity over the past 78 years.
For those who don’t know me, I came to Providence in 1959 and made Columbia my home. I served several roles, from supervising medical-surgical floors to serving as director of nursing. By 1967, I became chief administrator, and held that position until 1992. During those years, I saw our medical staff perform the first open-heart surgery in the state and watched as Providence became the premier heart hospital in South Carolina. Later, we advanced other services, including orthopedics, with the same excellence.
During my time as administrator, I made rounds every weekend to talk with employees, physicians and patients. I came to know their names and what was happening in their lives. I let them know their importance to our mission. And I gave hugs to show how much I cared. During orientation, I used to tell every new individual to respect and pray for one another.
I share this because I truly got to know so many wonderful people. Every one at Providence exemplified commitment to Jesus’ healing ministry. They provided more than just medical care. They prayed and walked with patients through their journey of healing. I learned then that we are not alone and that we serve this healing ministry together.
I experienced this from the perspective of a patient, as well. Many years ago, I was taken to Providence after collapsing at the convent, where Sisters Kathleen and Christopher found me on the floor after breakfast. I had a brain aneurism and stayed unconscious for several days. The prognosis seemed to be fatal. Providence saved my life. I am not only thankful to the surgeon, but forever grateful for the love and prayers I received from every member of the Providence family. When I awoke, I was able to heal because of the love and support from so many.
When I left the leadership of Providence, I took an exciting opportunity as associate director of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. For 11 years I saw the foundation make a tremendous impact on the root causes of poverty. It has changed lives in a different way than Providence, but in keeping with the same spirit. Since I had always had so much support from the community, I was so happy to have the opportunity to give back.
Although I retired several years ago, I have not forgotten my time in Columbia. Recently, I met the leadership of LifePoint Health. They wanted to meet with the sisters, especially those who had served in South Carolina. I was impressed by their sincerity to keep the spirit of Providence as a Catholic hospital that cares for each other as family. I told them that although people sometimes try to credit me for Providence’s successes, it really wasn’t me: It was the employees, physicians and community members who made and continue to make Providence so great.
To all our family at Providence: Keep doing what you always do. You are our hearts and our hands. Although ownership of the hospitals has changed, we will always be advocates and supporters of this vital ministry. Ministry is never done alone. We know each and every one of you is called to carry forward Jesus’ healing ministry, and your calling of service will continue. It is in that way that our legacy and our spirit of service will be carried into the future.
Please know that I miss you all and love you. Thank you for what you do every day. The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine are eternally grateful.
- Sister Mary Jacob Yelcho, CSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.