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Hospital Changes Planned

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Hospital changes planned

A move which would mean more community control of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and Mercywood Neuropsychiatric Hospital is under way. According to plans announced today, the two institutions will, by next July, be under direction of a single Divisional Board (equivalent of a board of trustees) with decision-making powers.

Currently St. Joseph Mercy and Mercywood have separate Community Advisory Boards. Mary Claire Anhut of Ypsilanti chairs the St. Joseph Board while William J. Conlin of Ann Arbor chairs the Mercywood board. The two groups will meet jointly, starting this month, to work toward establishment of a single divisional board, according to Anhut and Conlin.

BOTH HOSPITALS were founded and have been operated in Ann Arbor by the Sisters of Mercy since the early 1900s. Two years ago, the religious community reorganized its 17 midwestern hospitals into the Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation (SMHC). Since then, one of the corporate goals has been greater community participation in local hospital decision-making, according to Christine Taylor, director of Community Relations at St. Joseph.

The corporation has already strengthened such involvement by creating Divisional Boards in nine of the communities in which it operates hospitals. The new boards are a formal part of the corporate structure and have legal authority and responsibility for certain major decisions affecting the hospitals.

Many of the SMHC hospitals, including Mercywood and St. Joseph Mercy, have had community Advisory Boards since the late 1960s. The CAB’s have reviewed decisions, but have had no legally-binding authority or responsibility.

ANHUT, WHO has let the SJMH board for the past two years commented that “the consolidation of the boards will simplify long-term planning, budgeting, and other common issues.” Conlin, chair of the Mercywood CAB, said, “having one CAB - and eventually Divisional Board - will allow for greater opportunities for long-range planning and development for both institutions.”

Concurrent with the Divisional Board appointment next July, the two hospitals will be referred to as a single Division, called the Catherine McAuley Health Center.

Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in the nineteenth century in Dublin, Ireland.

The two hospitals will retain their present names, administrative and management teams, and complementary roles in health care.

Opportunities for further collaboration and cooperation will be identified by task forces appointed from the two hospitals, according to Taylor. The Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation has appointed SJMH Executive Director Robert E. Laverty to head transitional activities.

On formation of the single division and its board next July, Laverty will assume chief executive responsibility for the Division. Sister Mary Blanche Lysaght, R.S.M., will continue as administrator at Mercywood.