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My Views

California wildfires: Our caregivers need your help

The wildfire situation in California, especially Northern California, remains perilous. We have confirmed that 39 of our caregivers in Napa and Sonoma counties have lost their homes.  Many more have been evacuated, and it’s possible that total home loss for our caregivers could swell to 200.  Meanwhile, in Southern California, we have had numerous evacuations in Anaheim, where many of our caregivers have been forced to leave their homes.

California wildfires hit close to home; our caregivers respond

The wildfires in Sonoma, Napa and Orange Counties have been devastating and utterly heartbreaking for our communities in California. On behalf of the entire Providence St. Joseph Health family, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the caregivers who serve in our impacted ministries and who continue to care for patients even as they face their own personal uncertainty about their families, neighbors and property. Their dedication is nothing short of heroic. Thanks to their courageous efforts, our ministries in Northern and Southern California continue to operate and serve as a resource for people in desperate need of medical attention in these unbelievably trying circumstances.

 

Las Vegas: Our hearts are with victims, families and first responders

On behalf of the Providence St. Joseph Health family, I want to take a moment to express our deepest condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas. As health care professionals, we have seen our share of trauma on many occasions. Yet we cannot begin to fathom what it must be like to respond to casualties of this magnitude or to lose loved ones in such a senseless act of mass violence.

Pope Francis calls us to “share the journey” of migrants, refugees

At Providence St. Joseph Health, we are rooted in a tradition that calls us to show love and compassion for each person we encounter, especially the poor and vulnerable. This includes migrants and refugees who have fled their homes to escape war, persecution and grinding poverty.

Graham-Cassidy: Our voice made a difference

We spoke up for the poor and vulnerable. To caregivers and board members across Providence St. Joseph Health, thank you for standing up for those we serve. Our collective voice made a difference.

Today, the U.S. Senate decided not to vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, the latest version of a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. If passed, the legislation would have decimated Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans and would have jeopardized essential benefits, such as coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Over the last few days, our caregivers, community board members and foundation board members sent a total of 7,440 emails to members of Congress across five states! That is truly impressive and speaks volumes about how much our people care.

Because of you and other Americans who spoke up, we have preserved Medicaid for now but the cause endures. Repealing the ACA will be an ongoing issue, and we will need to continue educating our communities about the important role that Medicaid plays in the lives of many people we know and love, including our seniors in nursing homes, children with disabilities and working families struggling to make ends meet.

I also want to thank the courageous leaders who represent Providence St. Joseph Health communities. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, for example, has consistently taken a thoughtful and deliberate approach to this debate. Additionally, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state has played a pivotal role in a bi-partisan effort to stabilize the insurance markets.

As Sen. John McCain said when he opposed Graham-Cassidy last week, “The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.”

I agree with Sen. McCain whole-heartedly. With this bill behind us, my hope is that we can elevate the conversation and focus on solutions for how to make health care better and more affordable for every American. I urge our elected leaders to work together to find a bi-partisan path forward.

Again my deepest gratitude to our caregivers and board members for speaking up, and for all you do to serve the most vulnerable in our communities each and every day.

Advocacy alert: Take action for the poor and vulnerable

We've made it easy for any of our caregivers who feel called to contact Congress. If you are a member of the public, we have also provided resources below for you. 

At Providence St. Joseph Health, we are called to serve the poor and vulnerable. This includes speaking up when necessary to ensure everyone in our communities has access to high-quality health care. The Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange have always been vocal advocates for those we serve. In that tradition, I am asking our caregivers for help on a critical issue in which our collective voice is needed.

As you may have heard, the U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on new legislation that would eliminate health care coverage for millions of Americans. Known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, the proposal would dismantle the Medicaid safety net in many of our communities. If passed, the bill would:

  • Cap and severely cut Medicaid funding
  • Cause vulnerable children and adults to lose their coverage
  • Destabilize the health insurance market and make health care less affordable for those who depend on it most
  • Affect the future health and well being of the states we serve

If you are a caregiver with the Providence St. Joseph Health family, you can help by making your voice heard. Please be assured that acting on this request is entirely voluntary. But if you feel called to speak up on behalf of those we serve, we have created an online tool to make it easy for you to contact your Congress members.

Easy links for our caregivers
Our Government Affairs team has organized a grass-roots advocacy campaign, focusing on five of the seven states we serve. Just click on the link for the state where you live, and it will be easy for you to send a message. 

The Senate is expected to vote next week (by Sept. 30), so time is of the essence. Thank you for considering this request to stand up for health care. My deepest gratitude to all our caregivers for all you do to bring comfort, compassion and healing to vulnerable individuals in our communities every day.

Resources for the public

  • U.S. Senators - Get contact information for U.S. Senators in the state where you live
  • U.S. Representatives - Get contact information for your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Our caregivers raise $446,000 for hurricane, wildfire relief to date

Update: Due to the dire situation in Puerto Rico and other islands affected by Hurricane Maria, we have extended the deadline for our matching donations to Thursday, Oct. 12. 

When you work in health care and see entire communities in a state of emergency, your first instinct is to want to help in any way you can, whether it’s in your own backyard or on the other side of the country. It’s the first responder in all of us.

After school shooting, our caregivers help community heal

This week, one of the communities we serve experienced the type of tragedy you hope never happens in your hometown or to your kids.  The community of Freeman High School, just south of Spokane, Wash., was the site of a harrowing school shooting on Wednesday, leaving one student dead and three others injured.

As a parent, I can’t begin to imagine how the students, their families and the local community must feel. My heart is heavy for them. On behalf of everyone at Providence St. Joseph Health, we send all our love, blessings and prayers to the people of Freeman High School.

I am also incredibly proud of our caregivers at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane for rapidly responding to the situation, creating a safe haven for the victims and their families, and sending chaplains to the school to support the healing process through spiritual care.

This has not been an easy time for our team in Spokane, and I want to thank them for all they do. They are a rock-solid pillar in the community, always there for our neighbors even in the most unthinkable circumstances. 

Sadly, health care professionals are exposed to violence far too often. In fact, just last week, a shooting occurred on our hospital campus in Everett, Wash., also involving young people. At some point, it takes a toll. None of us are immune to trauma even if we’ve seen it bust through our emergency room doors too many times to count. Even more stressful is the reality that people who work in health care settings are sometimes the target of senseless violence themselves.

The number of tragedies these days can feel relentless, whether its destruction at the hands of violent gunmen or wildfires and hurricanes. That’s why it’s more important than ever for all of us to be there for one another. Caring and compassion are at the heart of who we are at Providence St. Joseph Health. I am inspired by the way our caregivers are coming together to love and support our communities and help each other find healing.

Responding to a season of cataclysmic natural disasters

It’s astonishing how many cataclysmic events are converging at once. We’re seeing devastating hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and Caribbean, a once in a century earthquake in Mexico City. And here in the Western U.S., wildfires have been raging for weeks, impacting many of the communities served by Providence St. Joseph Health.

Supporting our Dreamers

Immigration is a topic I’ve written about extensively during the past few months.  Why does an organization like Providence St. Joseph Health care so much about this issue?

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Rod Hochman, M.D.

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