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Ceremony of blessing and ribbon cutting mark SoutheastHEALTH’s merger with Mercy

Sister Katherine Glosenger, a board member of Mercy Health and a Sister of Mercy, cuts through ribbons to celebrate a merger between Mercy and SoutheastHEALTH. Photo by Gregory Dullum

SoutheastHEALTH’s merger with Mercy was officially celebrated with a “ceremony of blessing” and ribbon cutting Jan. 11 in the parking lot of the facility at 650 S. Mt. Auburn Rd. in Cape Girardeau. A large, heated tent was set up for the comfort of Mercy officials and guests. There was standing room only as nearly 125 Mercy coworkers were in attendance.

“SoutheastHEALTH has created a storied legacy and service for many decades,” said Eric Ammons, regional president, Southeast Missouri Communities. “This legacy now continues into a new chapter today as Southeast joins Mercy. I am genuinely honored to have Southeast be a part of the Mercy family as we move forward together, bringing to light the healing ministry of Jesus with compassionate care and exceptional service.”

“You have a rich history,” Steve Mackin, president and CEO of Mercy, told former SoutheastHEALTH officials. “Almost a hundred year history. Your beginning here in this community is very similar to how Mercy began in many of our communities. It started out of fundamental unmet meets of the community. I honor your history and we will always carry your history forward.”

Mercy is a 196-year-old ministry that has impacted millions of lives in Europe, Africa and across the United states, he explained.

“We don’t go into new markets,” Mackin continued. “We don’t know what a market is. We know communities. Smallpox brought us to Oklahoma. The Civil War was the catalyst for Mercy to create healthcare in St. Louis. Mining accidents in Joplin, MO, is why Sisters of Mercy first went there. It was typically out of an unmet need that created the reason why Mercy is in the communities we are in. We are now in over 100 communities across the Midwest, all with a unique story.”

“We are called to serve.

“We believe we have a moral and ethical obligation to get healthcare right. This is why Mercy, for years, has committed to pioneering new ways of caring.”

Angie Umfleet, chairwoman of Mercy Hospital Southeast (formerly Southeast Hospital) board of trustees, said, “We are embarking on a new chapter of our journey. Today is a celebration of a magnificent milestone, a milestone that will help revolutionize the way that we deliver care. … In times like these, when the healthcare landscape is ever evolving, it is crucial for us to adapt and embrace innovation. Today, we move forward together.

“As a board, we believe that joining Mercy aligns with our core values and the mission, which is keeping patients at the center of all that we do. ‘Forward together’ is not a concept, it’s a call for action for us to unite, share our expertise and work seamlessly for one common goal.”

“Change can be invigorating and challenging,” said Ken Bateman, CEO, Mercy Hospital Southeast Communities. “I want to assure each of you that this transition is rooted in a commitment to the care of our community. … As we move forward together, we foster closer collaboration, innovation and continued improvement. We will learn from each other, share best practices, and collectively elevate the standard of care that we provide for our patients.”

Ryan Geib, president of Mercy Southeast Communities, said he was humbled by the warm welcome he and other Mercy coworkers have received in southeast Missouri, and he is “excited about the possibilities as we lock arms to continue to uphold the values of empathy and understanding that has defined our hospitals for years. Together, we’ll continue to serve with the utmost dedication and compassion as we build a healthier and more connected future for all.”

Bishop Edward Rice of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese and the Rev. Patrick Nwokoye, diocesan director of health affairs, conducted a blessing ceremony, which included prayers and a sprinkling of holy water.

Rice noted that in St. Louis, where he had served previously, the population is about 30% Catholic. But here in southern Missouri, about 1 in 20 people are Catholic. “You can assume that 95 percent of the employees in our Catholic institutions are not Catholic. And 95% of the people who will use our services in our Catholic hospitals are not Catholic. So we Catholics have to get it right. We don’t do it because you’re Catholic, we do it because we’re Catholic.”

A Mercy cross was presented to Kevin Minder, senior vice president, Mission and Community Health.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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