Aug. 16, 2018
JEFFERSON CITY — Bishop Shawn McKnight has released the following statement in response to the SSM Health announcement today that it is in exclusive discussions with University of Missouri Health Care (MU Health Care) to transfer ownership of its ministries in Mid-Missouri, which include SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Jefferson City and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Audrain, as well as outpatient, home care, hospice and medical group locations throughout the region.
“When the Franciscan Sisters of St. Mary entered the region which would become the Diocese of Jefferson City, they found Catholics and other people of good will in the area to help them provide healing, compassionate and holistic care for the sick and suffering.
“We have been blessed with the dedication and witness to their founding vision by the staff of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City and St. Mary’s Hospital in Audrain County, in carrying out this important service of our Church.
“With the announcement today of the decision by SSM Health to enter into negotiations with the University of Missouri system to sell the only two remaining Catholic hospitals in the Diocese of Jefferson City, we are witnessing the end of a long chapter of Catholic hospitals in our community.
“I want to encourage those communities affected by this decision to know that the Diocese stands with them in writing the next chapter of Catholic health care for our communities. As one of the corporal works of mercy, caring for the sick, including their spiritual care, is a core element of our Catholic mission.
“We will continue to provide this ministry here in our Diocese to the sick, elderly and the poor in other forms, although without the benefit of Catholic hospitals. I also intend to collaborate with health care professionals and civic officials to ensure that Catholics and others working in health care may continue to provide healing and care in our communities according to the values of our Christian faith.
“This time of transition offers us the opportunity to thank God for all the good that has been accomplished by the founding sisters and their collaborators over the years, and to ask for his guidance in continuing this work into the future.”