25 Years of Nurturing Health & Wholeness

September 8, 2021
Fayln Smith, MA engaging with Centura Health patients

For a quarter of a century, Centura Health has been working to improve the health of those in our communities. And we’ve approached this work deliberately, allowing our mission to lead the way. By combining the roots of our two founding ministries, Centura Health has become an unstoppable source of positive change.

“The best test of integrity is to answer two questions: ‘Who am I?’ And, ‘How should I act, behave and decide as a result?’,” explains Patrick Gaughan, Senior Vice President and Chief Values Integration Officer for Centura Health. “Centura Health draws upon its core values to do just that. Integral to who we are, we show up for others in our every interaction.”

Blending our past
Centura Health came together 25 years ago by uniting two distinct faith-based entities—one Catholic and one Adventist. Both ministries were dedicated to improving the health of others, but emphasized slightly different approaches. Catholics sought to meet unmet healthcare needs and care for those who were poor and marginalized and Adventists focused on preventing illness and promoting overall wellness.

“By combining these two philosophies — responding to needs and identifying opportunities to improve health — we are able to care for the whole person: mind, body and spirit,” says Gaughan. “We incorporate both proactive and reactive approaches in our ability to care for others.”

Caring for the whole person
As a Christian, not-for-profit organization, Centura Health’s 17 hospitals provide top quality healthcare services to all people in need, regardless of ability to pay. But health and wellbeing are not achieved with medical care alone.

“So many things affect our health — from nutrition and environment to relationships, spiritual care, and more,” says Gaughan. “To focus on the whole person, we first need to do what is necessary and then we can do what is possible. That’s where we are right now — partnering with others to achieve what is possible so that every community, every neighborhood, every life is healthy and whole.”

Responding to needs
One way Centura Health responds to the needs of our communities is to partner with small hospitals in remote areas of Kansas and Colorado. These 16 rural hospitals, which are independent of Centura Health, are integral to the small towns where they are located. Many of these facilities are the largest employer and only healthcare provider within their county, some of which have only a few thousand people.

“If the hospital goes away, these communities die,” explains Josh Neff, Vice President of Integration and Rural Health for Centura Health. “It’s vital they provide needed care, employment and viability to the people of those areas.”

Centura Health mentors these hospitals on how to operate successfully and maintain long-term sustainability. For a handful of them, the system collaborates more closely, placing Centura Health associates in the facilities where needed. Centura Health also regularly coordinates and sends medical specialists such as cardiologists and oncologists to these remote regions for periodic care. Without these resources, the needs of people in these areas would go unmet.

“These people are largely farmers and ranchers who cannot leave their fields to drive hours for a healthcare appointment. But their communities cannot support specialty care,” explains Neff. “We try to meet these important needs by making health care more accessible.”

Affecting positive change
To pinpoint areas of greatest need in our neighborhoods, Centura Health conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years. Those findings guide the organization on the best ways to improve health and wholeness for the people we serve.

The system has identified food insecurity and mental/behavioral health as top priorities in our communities today. To help address these widespread issues, Centura Health partners with other organizations to develop and implement solutions that focus on the root of the problem, not just fix the symptoms.

For example, to help address food insecurity, Centura Health has partnered with FarmBox Foods and Colorado State University to build vertical hydroponic farms in food deserts. Not only do these farms produce fresh produce to help feed the community, they are a platform to help educate and equip others in new ways to grow nutritious, affordable foods in the long term.

“Tackling these big issues takes major collaboration and involvement. Eradicating food deserts is an audacious goal,” says Gaughan. “We understand the work appears daunting, but so did putting a person on the moon! Bringing the right minds and partners together, it can and should be accomplished.”

Being intentional
As Centura Health celebrates its 25th anniversary, it’s clear that we are not satisfied staying in one place. Far from it. The health system is alive with new plans and initiatives to encourage better health and wellness throughout our communities. Centura Health’s mission — which calls on the people of Centura Health to act, behave and make decisions that extend the healing ministry of Christ — is stronger than ever.

“Times have changed and our challenges may be different, but Centura Health hasn’t veered from our mission nor our core values,” says Gaughan. “All 17 hospitals work together to ensure our mission is integral in all we do. By applying this constant to our new challenges, we are excited to see what we can accomplish.