Memorial Hospital affiliated with Deaconess Health System

The site of Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center (MHHCC) is shown above. An affiliation agreement between (MHHCC) in Jasper and Deaconess Health System was finalized in February.  Megan Erbacher photo

Special to The Message

On Feb. 1, 2024, an affiliation agreement between Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center (MHHCC) in Jasper and Deaconess Health System was finalized. In the process of negotiations between the two entities, a strong desire was expressed to maintain the Catholic identity of MHHCC in this new arrangement. To this end, the Diocese, MHHCC and Deaconess Health System engaged in a comprehensive process to arrive at the terms of the Catholicity Agreement which will govern operations of the hospital within the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which addresses matters such as beginning and end-of-life issues.

Officials involved in the process of arriving at the Catholicity Agreement indicated that the primary purpose of the agreement is to ensure that healthcare continues to be provided consistent with Catholic Teaching within the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services. The Catholicity Agreement provides several reporting and collaboration measures to help ensure the parties can achieve these objectives, including the maintenance of a Director of Mission Integration on staff at the hospital, jointly agreed upon by the hospital and Bishop Joseph M. Siegel; representation on the Board of Directors of at least 50% practicing Catholics, including at least one member of the clergy or of a religious order and approved by Bishop Siegel; the maintenance of an Ethics Committee chaired by the Director of Mission Integration, including at least two members appointed by Bishop Siegel, who are training in Theology and/or Canon Law; as well as periodic reporting requirements from hospital management to Bishop Siegel and a periodic external review of services and Ethical and Religious Directives by a body designated by Bishop Siegel and the Diocese of Evansville.

Bishop Siegel commented on the affiliation: “The Diocese looks forward to Memorial Hospital continuing its Catholic mission well into the future with its new partnership with Deaconess. The Diocese also warmly salutes the Little Company of Mary Sisters for sponsoring MHHCC since its beginning more than 70 years ago, as well as MHHCC for its decades of Catholic ministry in health care.” 

On March 4, Bishop Siegel celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Joseph Parish in Jasper for the many years of service of the Little Company of Mary Sisters at MHHCC and a celebration of continuing their Catholic healthcare ministry in the community in collaboration with Deaconess Health System.

“I am pleased to welcome Memorial Hospital as our newest affiliate,” Deaconess CEO Shawn McCoy said. “At Deaconess, we strongly believe in local decisions and local leadership for healthcare organizations. Memorial Hospital is already a high-quality organization, so we look forward to building on this strong foundation to add and enhance services available in and around Jasper.”

“As we transition through the coming months and years, our collective plan is to grow services, expand care and continue to deliver care locally,” said E. Kyle Bennett, MHHCC President and CEO. “Memorial Hospital will continue to operate with a local board of directors.”

“Deaconess has committed to a significant investment over the next 10 years in Memorial and its surrounding communities,” McCoy said, “with the goal of increasing the quantity and scope of care provided at Memorial.” 

Littler Company of Mary Sister Renee Cunningham, secretary of the board of directors, said, “The affiliation with Deaconess ensures we can continue to meet this commitment for decades to come.”