News Center

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Federal judge orders halt on health care provision infringing on religious rights

Franciscan Alliance, other groups’ legal challenge supported by court ruling

MISHAWAKA, Ind. In 2012, the U.S. government began implementing its requirement that certain employers, who provide a health plan to their employees include, free-of-charge, certain women’s reproductive preventative services including abortifacients, contraceptives and contraceptive counseling.

As a not-for-profit dedicated to religious beliefs that do not permit such practices, Franciscan Alliance was exempted under a “Safe Harbor” from providing such services until Jan. 1, 2014. Because of this deadline, Franciscan Alliance joined with other similarly situated corporations to seek injunctive relief in the federal court system to preserve its protections under the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

On Friday, Dec. 27, the Hon. Jon Deguilio, U.S. district judge for the Northern District Court of Indiana , issued an order granting a motion for preliminary injunction and enjoining the defendants, the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Treasury and their agents and officers and representatives from applying or enforcing against the plaintiffs: Franciscan Alliance, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, the University of Saint Francis, and Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., or their employee insurance plans.

This also included their plan brokers, plan insurers, or third party administrators, the requirements set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4) and 45 C.F.R. § 147.130(a)(1)(iv), corresponding guidelines to provide, pay for, or otherwise facilitate access to the FDA approved contraceptive methods, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization procedures, and related patient education and counseling.

The court recognized the likelihood of plaintiffs to prevail in a permanent injunction action based upon the preservation of their deeply held religious beliefs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It further noted that the federal regulations exempted churches from the mandated requirements but the plaintiffs as not-for- profit organizations, providing charitable services were  only afforded an accommodation. This would have required them to “facilitate and serve as the conduit through which objectionable contraceptive products and services are ultimately provided to their employees, in violation of their unquestionably sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Finally, the judge’s ruling noted that by granting exemption to churches but requiring the Catholic not-for-profitable organizations to act as facilitator and conduit for the provision of objectionable services was, in fact, having the effect of dividing the Catholic Church into two separate entities,

despite their overlapping membership and leadership and separating those inside the church’s
walls from those engaging in the fulfillment of the religious and charitable missions of the Diocese of the Catholic Church.

"We simply asked that the government not impose its values and policies on plaintiffs, in direct violation of our religious beliefs," said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer. “We deeply appreciate the skillful and thoughtful counsel of Jones Day, which coordinated our collective legal challenge.

“Franciscan Alliance is proud of its heritage as a Not-For-Profit Catholic Health Care Corporation dedicated to is Mission of Continuing Christ’s Ministry in Our Franciscan Tradition,” said Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of Franciscan Alliance’s Board of Trustees  “We have adhered to the tenets of the Catholic faith and continue to look to our sponsor, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, for guidance in continuing its 138-year history of providing health care to those we are privileged to serve in the United States.”

About Franciscan Alliance
The Franciscan Alliance healthcare ministry began in Lafayette, Ind., in 1875. Today, Franciscan Alliance is one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the Midwest with 13 hospital campuses, 20,000 employees and a number of nationally recognized Centers of Health Care Excellence. Hospitals include: Franciscan St. Anthony Health- Crown Point; Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City.; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health- Crawfordsville; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health- Lafayette East; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health-Lafayette Central; Franciscan St. Francis Health-Carmel; Franciscan St. Francis Health- Indianapolis; Franciscan St.

Francis Health-Mooresville; Franciscan St. James Health-Chicago Heights, Ill.; Franciscan St. James Health- Olympia Fields, Ill.; Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Hammond; Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer; and Franciscan Healthcare-Munster.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New spiritual care director selected by Franciscan St. Francis Health

INDIANAPOLIS – Marilyn Williams, BCC, has been appointed director of Spiritual Care at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

Williams joined St. Francis Health this month from St. Mary’s Health in Evansville, where she served as director of pastoral care for three years. She previously served as a chaplain for a Catholic hospital in Tennessee and completed her Clinical Professional Education (chaplaincy training) in Omaha, Neb. 

Prior to becoming a chaplain she worked in cancer research and healthcare management.  In one of her roles she was involved in the development of a curriculum in integrative and holistic medicine for physicians. 

Williams said her calling to pastoral care was a natural extension of her spiritual journey.

“One thing I love is hearing the stories people have,” Williams said. “It’s such a privilege as chaplain to have the opportunity to not only hear the stories but also be with people in a special way in their most vulnerable times of life – illness, dying, birth – just to be a service and show the love and compassion of Christ in those times.”

Williams has a master’s in theological studies from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., a master of science in hospital and health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and is board certified by The National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

She is an oblate for Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Ala..  Oblates are Christian individuals who have associated themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. Oblates seek God and shape their lives by following, as permitted by their station or lifestyle within the world, the Rule of St. Benedict for the monastic way of life based on the Christian scriptures.

“We are very happy to have Marilyn Williams join our St. Francis family,” said Sister Marlene Shapley, vice president of Mission Services. “She comes with many years of Spiritual Care experience and management expertise. We welcome Marilyn to lead us into the future of what is most important—Mission and our Spiritual direction.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Send in the Clown

Liam is more focused on the gift bags outside his
room than he is on the arrival of his visitor
Ronald McDonald paid a visit to the youngsters in our pediatrics unit Dec. 17. McDonald’s Restaurants of Central Indiana have been spreading cheer this holiday season through the Joy of Giving.

Each child received special gifts as the playful Ronald interacted with them, their parents and hospital staff. Here are some images from the visit.

Five-year-old Avah was just being admitted to the unit and laughs as Ronald
demonstrates his squeaky outfit. For the record, she doesn't have a boyfriend
 and is not in high school yet, she revealed under intense questioning from her visitor

Ronald, Avah and her mother Sherri, are joined by local McDonald’s
Owner/Operator Pete Wojtowicz, who provided and helped deliver gifts to the youngsters.

Lennon checks out the race track while Ronald ponders the cars. 

THUMBS UP: Ronald strikes a pose with Sister Martha Ann, Lori Warner
(director of Women and Children's Services), Jennifer Naessens
(pediatrics manager) and Dena Powell (marketing and community relations coordinator).

Friday, December 13, 2013

New chief operating officer takes reins of Franciscan VNS

INDIANAPOLIS – Beth A. Keultjes has been named vice president and chief operating officer of Home Health and Hospice for Franciscan VNS

Keultjes brings with her many years of experience in the health care field as well as an earnest interest in developing cost-effective home health care programs that are in line with the new Accountable Care Organization efficiencies.

She replaces John Pipas, who will retire as president of Franciscan VNS, which partnered with Franciscan St. Francis Health in 2011.

For the past three years, Keultjes has worked at Cassopolis Family Clinic, where she has overseen the development of a new facility, led a major capital campaign, and managed the organization’s efforts to become a patient centered medical home.  Keultjes has spent more than 20 years leading home health and hospice organizations. 

Notably, when Keultjes worked for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend, the organization acquired a Visiting Nurse Association and was responsible for combining the two programs into a very successful integrated home care operation. 

Keultjes received her undergraduate degree in business administration from Indiana University and her master’s degree in administration from the University of Notre Dame.

She is a member of the American College of Health Care Executives and past president of the Northern Indiana Alzheimer’s Association.

Visiting Nurse Service at St. Francis was incorporated in 1913 and is a non-profit United Way agency.  VNS at St. Francis is committed to providing quality, cost-effective, healthcare and family programs in the community. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New manager for Central Scheduling selected

INDIANAPOLIS – Jennifer Davenport has been appointed manager for Central Scheduling at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

She most previously served as manager of the Physician Office Navigator program, where she supervised the operations of 12 Navigator sites within Franciscan Physician Network.

Davenport, an Indianapolis resident, studied journalism at Ball State University and earned her certification in phlebotomy at Med Tech College in Greenwood. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Coping with holiday stress hinges on personal, realistic approach

INDIANAPOLIS – As the holiday tune resonates with the message that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many it’s a time of stress, grief over the loss of a loved one, or grappling with the rough economic times.

“There are many healthy ways to cope with issues many of us face during the holidays,” said Kerry Minnis, licensed clinical social worker at Franciscan St. Francis Health, offering several tips:

Stress Overload
·         Simplify. Cut your “to-do” list. Delegate and get help.
·         Make choices that are good for you and your family.
·         Remember, time management is self-management. Teaching others to respect your time and having realistic goals are helpful.

·         Develop new traditions. Reaffirm your spirituality. Focus on family.
·         Examine your holiday rituals and traditions. Keep those that are enjoyable and meaningful. Create new rituals that fit your current lifestyle.
·         Reach out to others and share in the true meaning of the holiday.

Hard Time Economy
·         Avoid gift-giving frenzies. Use alternative gifts if money is a problem. Those may include something you can make or a card with the offer to provide a task or chore.
·         Focusing on the original meaning of the holiday can help overcome guilt associated with the inability to buy the gifts we would like.

Francis St. Francis Outpatient Behavioral Health Services offers a variety of services and programs throughout the year. Click here to learn more.