A Heritage of Loving Service: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Tucson
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Heritage: The Story of St. Mary's Hospital, 1880-1980
By Leo G. Bryne and Sister Alberta Cammack, C.S.J

Chapter III Contemporary St. Mary's
Facing the Future

The future direction of St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center and indeed that of the health care industry in general will be dictated by three general trends emerging in the 1 980's. These are the rapid development of high technology medical care, increased emphasis on individual responsibility for personal health and well-being and governmental responsibility for health care.

High technology medical care will lead to advances in diagnosis and therapy related to health care and will provide a mix of sophisticated services which will both improve the ability of persons to maintain themselves outside the hospital setting, as well as increase the complexity of services provided to patients in the hospital itself. Some experts believe that this technology will deeply affect the hospital industry as we know it today. Some futurists believe that hospitals will be transformed into urgent care centers where only the most acute medical conditions will be handled. This would mean that society would develop the technology to deal with most chronic problems on an outpatient basis. Trends in ambulatory surgery and the reduction of use of hospitals for children appear to confirm this scenario.

The increased emphasis on individual responsibility for health and well-being will mean a refocus on the health care system from delivery of services in traditional institutional settings like hospitals, clinics, physicians offices to other sites where general health can be improved. Some examples include the intervention in the work environment to reduce stress and in the home where nutrition and exercise will gain new importance. This trend represents a departure from a disease-oriented system to a wellness system which includes greater resources placed on prevention of illness, education and promotion of wellness.

Governmental responsibility for health care has been growing since the decade of the 60's. The trend will continue as it continues to pay the health bill for increased government segments of the national population. With the increased role of government will come increased efforts to control the health care industry. The government will continue to play a large role in determining how health care resources are allocated across the nation.

As St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center plans for its second century of service, these three major trends that will shape its future must be considered. Although it is not possible to know precisely how the hospital will evolve, it is clear that the hospital will become a more sophisticated and technologically oriented resource treating acute or life-threatening conditions. In addition, the hospital will expand its role from a disease-oriented approach and become a community resource for prevention of illness and health promotion.

National health policy will have a major impact on change in the industry and will affect the range of services that will be offered in a community hospital like St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center. As we enter this next century of service, we look forward to the changing nature of the industry and hope to be in the forefront in maintaining the health of the citizens of Southern Arizona.

On May 2, 1980 at St. Mary's Centennial Celebration, Sister Mary Kevin Ford, CSJ, General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph stated:

It is now our responsibility to look to a new future, identify the changes that gradually we must make, monitor them and guide the directions and activities we project to assure that we simply do not perdure, but that we continue to impact the mission of the Church and the society in which we are so deeply immersed.

Our congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet is studiously struggling with this concept: the concept that we are shaping that future by our present decisions. St. Mary's Hospital, together with the other eleven sister hospitals sponsored by our congregation, is framing a future that recognizes the signs of the times, the pressures of extrinsic agencies -- especially government -- the changing and, too often, degenerating social mores, and is programming an institutional network to undergird our health care ministries. We trust that, with this structure and the continuing cooperation and assistance of our many associates, we can perpetuate the wonderful history of this institution and that of the others, and be an instrument of the healing presence of the Lord.

With this vision of the future, St. Mary's now faces its Second Century, a century like the first which called upon the energies and spirit of those who cared for the sick and injured. Departments, services, therapies, and systems have evolved with the times, but the life-force which created St. Mary's is its people -- its staff of dedicated physicians; compassionate and skilled nurses, therapists, and technicians; its concerned and responsible directors; and those whose work supports the efforts of the others making it possible not only to offer the best in care but also a special kind of love which comes from willing and generous hearts.

Tucson, Arizona, 1980

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