Dr. Patricia A. Maryland, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer for Ascension Health — the largest nonprofit U.S. healthcare system — highlighted the healthcare needs of underserved communities in a lecture Monday.
Ascension Health, which currently operates in 24 states and Washington D.C. with 18 markets, “strives to provide not just hospitals but also other services to drive and improve the overall health” of its patients, according to Maryland.
Founded in 1999, Ascension Health aims to provide “spiritually centered holistic care” that “leaves no one behind,” Maryland said. She added that the organization works to improve patients’ experience, the health of the general population and the per capita affordability of healthcare.
The organization invests all of its revenue back into its operations, according to Maryland. In 2016, she said Ascension Health invested $1.8 billion in revenue back into improving the quality of care for its patients.
Ascension Health focuses more on preventative measures than providing cures for illnesses, a focus which Maryland called a “very important” transition for the “future of care.”
“In 2010, we were able to reduce death by more than 5000,” she said. “The 5000 were already in very grave conditions by the time they reached the hospital, but we refused to give up and we said we would take care of them.”
Maryland presented several videos that displayed challenges faced by the healthcare industry today. She cited non-health factors that indirectly affect community health, such as border violence, gang-related youth violence and a lack of transportation. She explained that these seemingly non-medical factors have the potential to increase stress, reduce access to medicine and increase lack of education in underdeveloped communities.
Maryland stressed the special type of healthcare that young children, seniors, people with chronic disease and people with traumatic experiences require.
“Health is the state of physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease,” she said.