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(St. Louis) May 15, 2014 – Ascension announced today that Nick Ragone will be joining the organization as Chief Communications Officer, effective June 23.  Ascension is a Catholic healthcare organization dedicated to the transformation of healthcare through excellent clinical care throughout the continuum of care and through innovation. Its direct subsidiaries include Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system, with more than 155,000 associates serving in more than 1,900 sites of care.
Mr. Ragone will provide leadership for the communications function across Ascension, its subsidiaries, and its 36 Health Ministries, which include hospitals and related health facilities in 23 states and the District of Columbia. 
“We are excited to have a leader of Nick’s caliber join our team,” said Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension.  “As Ascension works to advance our healing Mission and strengthen Catholic healthcare, it is critical that we have a strong Communications leader to give voice to our purpose and our priorities.” 
Mr. Ragone will report to John D. Doyle, Executive Vice President, Ascension and President and CEO, Ascension Holdings.  Mr. Ragone is joining Ascension from Ketchum Public Relations, where he is a partner and director of its Washington, D.C., office.  Prior to that, he served as Associate Director of Ketchum’s New York office, where he oversaw the corporate, media, and issues and crisis practices.
“Nick’s work will enhance the strategic identity of Ascension among important communities, stimulate engagement, and ensure our insight into key constituents’ needs and expectations,” said Mr. Doyle.
“Ascension is a truly remarkable organization and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunity to serve as its Chief Communications Officer,” said Mr. Ragone.  “Ascension is leading the way in healthcare transformation and delivering world-class and affordable care to all – with special attention to the underserved and most vulnerable.  This is an exciting time to be in healthcare delivery as Ascension navigates the rapidly changing environment.  I look forward to helping Ascension make a difference in people's lives.”
Mr. Ragone earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., and a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.  He is the author of four books on presidential leadership and government, including his most recent, Presidential Leadership: 15 Decisions that Changed the Nation.  In 2007, PR Week named Mr. Ragone one of its “40 under 40 to watch” in its inaugural issue of that list.  He is a regular contributor to Fox News and CNN.

St. Louis (April 15, 2014) –Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH, President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer of Ascension Health, was named one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2014.

Modern Healthcare, a leading source of healthcare business and policy news, research and information, biennially honors the top 25 minority healthcare executives who are influencing the policy and care delivery models across the country and demonstrating a willingness to share expertise and mentor others.

“As I am honored to receive this recognition, I am reminded it is a testament to the importance of diversity, not just of gender, race and age, but a diversity of thought and perspective,” said Dr. Maryland. “Especially in healthcare, it’s more important than ever for leaders to listen to a broader collection of voices representing different backgrounds and coming from a variety of perspectives, in order for us to envision the new and innovative ways we’ll need to serve our communities.”

After being promoted to President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer for Ascension Health in July 2013, Dr. Maryland led representatives across Ascension’s national health ministry to collaborate in developing several initiatives designed to ensure Ascension will be able to continue to meet its commitment to provide healthcare to those who are poor and vulnerable even during uncertain economic times. (During 2013, the Ascension Health Ministries’ Care of Persons Living in Poverty and Other Community Benefit Programs reached $1.5 billion.)

“We are honored and privileged to have such a dedicated, visionary leader who is committed to promoting human dignity and contributing to the common good within and through a diverse community of inspired associates – a community that mirrors the communities we serve,” said Ascension Health President and CEO Robert J. Henkel, FACHE. “Pat not only leads others to transform healthcare today but takes time to grow healthcare leaders for tomorrow.”

Prior to assuming her current role, Dr. Maryland served in dual roles as Ascension Health’s Michigan Ministry Market Leader and President and CEO of St. John Providence Health System (SJPHS) in Detroit, a member of Ascension Health. She was instrumental to advancing Ascension Health’s Mission in Michigan and determining how to best serve a radically changed Michigan going forward. In fiscal year 2012, under Dr. Maryland’s leadership and during one of the most depressed times in Michigan’s recent history, SJPHS ended the year with a net income of $58.8 million while providing $155,118,624 in Care of Persons Living in Poverty and Other Community Benefit Programs.

In addition to this most recent accolade, numerous organizations have recognized Dr. Maryland for her passion and dedication to mentoring others. In March 2013 she received the Professional Role Model Award by the Alternatives for Girls organization, which reflects her dedication to disadvantaged minority young women, giving them hands-on attention including offering internships and shadowing opportunities. In October 2009, another organization, the Girls into Women/Rhonda Walker Foundation, presented Dr. Maryland with the Powerful Woman of Purpose award for “Exemplary Commitment and Service in Healthcare and the Community” for her commitment to mentoring minority girls throughout their full five-year learning experience with the foundation.

Dr. Maryland will be honored for this latest recognition in July during Modern Healthcare’s awards dinner in Chicago. Find additional information, and the full list of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare Award.

Ascension Health Initiative Believed To Be The Largest Published Effort In U.S.

(St. Louis) March 28, 2104— An Ascension Health program shows great potential in avoiding patient infections by reducing the use of urinary catheters in emergency departments, according to a study published in March 2014 in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The initiative is believed to be the largest published effort in the United States to reduce unnecessary urinary catheter placement in emergency departments.  With more than half of hospitalized patients being admitted from the emergency department, avoiding placement of unnecessary urinary catheters may substantially affect risk of patient harm during hospitalization.

The urinary catheter is often placed in the emergency department, many times without an appropriate indication for use. The presence of the urinary catheter is associated with both infectious and non-infectious complications. In addition to the risk for catheter associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), a preventable but very common type of hospital-acquired infection, patients are at risk for trauma, immobility, pressure ulcers and falls. Many urinary catheters are placed in the emergency department without documentation of necessity or after subjective evaluations, such as if the patient is merely frail, elderly or has an acute illness.  In addition, most previous efforts to reduce urinary catheter usage have focused on the inpatient setting with an emphasis of removing catheters that are no longer necessary.  The optimal practice is not to place the urinary catheter, unless indicated.  Avoiding placement of unnecessary urinary catheters in emergency departments may substantially help avert the risk of harm during hospitalization.  Emergency departments are viewed as the “point of entry” where efforts to reduce unnecessary urinary catheter use should be directed.

The Ascension Health study was led by Mohamad G. Fakih, MD, MPH, Ascension Health’s National Infectious Diseases Physician Leader and the Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, MI.  It was co-authored by Michelle Heavens, MHA, BSN, Director, Clinical Excellence, Ascension Health; Julie Grotemeyer, BS, Project Manager, Clinical Excellence, Ascension Health; Susanna M. Szpunar, DrPH, MPH, Department of Medical Education, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, MI; Clariecia Groves, MS, Clinical Data Analyst, Clinical Excellence, Ascension Health; and Ann Hendrich, RN, PhD, Senior Vice President, Chief Quality/Safety and Nursing Officer, Ascension Health. 

The study analyzed the results of a quality-improvement effort to reduce unnecessary urinary catheter use in 18 emergency departments at hospitals of various sizes and in different states throughout Ascension Health.  The analyses upon which this publication was based were performed under Ascension Health’s Hospital Engagement Network contract for the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Partnership for Patients initiative.. The program was based on establishing and adopting institutional indications for urinary catheter use, having local emergency department physician and nurse champions to support the effort, and regular evaluation of performance.

Participating hospitals were invited to take part in the study through communication with chief nursing officers, chief medical officers and quality leaders.  Representatives from interested hospitals provided names of emergency physician and nurse champions.  A webinar reviewed aims for improving urinary catheter placement in the emergency department, implementing improvements, engaging emergency physicians and nurses, using tools to facilitate the work, and collecting and submitting data. Teams were engaged over the period of the effort and periodic evaluations of performance were fed back to teams.

“The program resulted in a 30-percent reduction in use of newly placed urinary catheters, which was sustained during a six-month period,” Dr. Fakih wrote in the study.  “There was also a concommitant increase in appropriate use of urinary catheters. The improvements were noted for different-size hospitals and were more pronounced for hospitals that had a higher urinary catheter placement baseline.”

The most common appropriate uses of urinary catheters in the ED were for monitoring fluids in critically ill patients, for immobilized patients due to trauma or an unstable spine, and those with urinary retention. Inappropriate use was more associated with a lack of physician order documentation. The study found that improvements were sustained with both education and regular feedback on performance.

“We suggest that hospitals evaluate their practice of urinary catheter placement in the emergency department (placement rate and appropriateness), have clearly identified institutional indications for urinary catheter placement, have physician and nurse champions to ensure accountability, and perform regular audits and provide feedback on performance,” the study noted.

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