Columns for The Lufkin News

Memorial and Catholic Health Initiatives

Posted Jun 03, 2014 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

In my January column, I wrote that we have an ongoing obligation to provide non-profit care locally so that Memorial’s mission of compassion, established in 1949 by our community forefathers, can continue. I am thrilled that Memorial has strengthened its ability to deliver on that mission by becoming part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), effective June 1. CHI operates 89 hospitals in 18 states, with more on the way.

Much has been written about the transfer of ownership already, so I thought I’d comment on what this transaction is not:

It is not a takeover of physician practice. CHI has committed to preserve existing physician relationships in the community and build new ones. CHI’s relationship model with physicians is very much dependent on the region of the country they are in. Ultimately, improved coordination of care and better patient outcomes have to happen. Quality, efficient care is the focus, not whether or not physicians are independent or employed.

It is not a transfer of care to Houston. In fact, CHI wants to see Memorial become an even stronger hub for healthcare in the region. Of course, we will have increased access to highly sophisticated care through closer ties to CHI St. Luke’s Health in Houston and its affiliations with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Heart® Institute. That will only strengthen our position in the region and improve the quality of care we deliver locally so that even more health care can remain local. Over the next two to three years, it is CHI’s intent that Memorial will become a part of CHI St. Luke’s Health. In my own area of cancer care, this can only enhance my options for my patients, including improved access to clinical trials.

It is not a drain of money from the local economy. The fact is, Memorial’s board recognized that the landscape of healthcare had so fundamentally changed that maintaining mission in a fiscally responsible way was becoming increasingly challenging without the resources and expertise of a well-capitalized, national partner. Over the next 5 years, CHI will invest more than $1 billion to expand and enhance the southeast Texas region’s health care infrastructure. Memorial, for its part, is guaranteed to see significant capital improvements over the next 6 years.

It is not a change of mission. Having read the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services – the guiding document for ethical behavior in health care for Catholic institutions – I can tell you that CHI’s mission and Memorial’s mission mesh beautifully. Both Memorial and CHI share a commitment to putting the health of the people and communities we serve at the center of everything we do. CHI intends to maintain the core health care services and charity care currently provided by Memorial in the East Texas community, which will continue to be overseen by a local board of community and physician leaders. I have the privilege of serving on that board, and I can state with confidence that Memorial’s strong commitment to charity care will continue.

It is not an end of an era. In 1949, our community forefathers got together to establish Memorial Hospital to take care of the people here in deep East Texas. They were compassionate, innovative, and forward-thinking. Their descendants – some in name and all in spirit – have led this health system to maintain that mission for sixty five years. Today, with no less compassion and thought for the future, we have taken a bold step to preserve and advance non-profit care for our region. Here’s to the next 65 years!

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Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist