On Thursday, May 5, a welcome ceremony was held at the former Colorado Plains Medical Center in honor of its transition to Centura Health and its renaming to St. Elizabeth Hospital.
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital CEO Josh Neff welcomed guests to the event and shared both a personal goal and the overall vision for Centura Health. Although he was only CEO for seven days, he noted that the hospital has had a presence in Fort Morgan for 70 years and quickly welcomed Centura into the community.
“As we go through this transition, the grace, empathy and love shown to us at Centura as we welcomed all the new associates into our family has been tremendous. In fact, it’s just flatly inspiring. . I appreciate the way you present yourself and I appreciate that we (could) take this journey together to continue the good work that is happening here,” Neff said. “You are already living our vision of ‘Every community, every neighborhood, every life – whole and healthy.’ As we talked about what we wanted to do in this community over the past few days, you’ve all already shown that you’re fully invested and are all into it. I appreciate that. We are going to be able to do wonderful things for this community in the years to come.
He then welcomed Peter Banko, President and CEO of Centura Health, to speak.
“On behalf of the Centura Board of Health and the leadership team, I would like to welcome St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to our Centura-connected ecosystem. Today is a happy day,” Banko said.
He shared that Centura is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year and paid tribute to the women who helped create it.
“Our history is deep and strong, so all of us today need to remember that our ministry was founded by a group of young women. And being a woman in 1882 was a little different than today. It’s the people that we rely on today; it was the giants who started us,” he said.
He acknowledged that Centura is a Catholic organization, although it is not mandatory for Centura employees to be Catholic or even Christian. Banko shared that Catholic (with a lowercase c) means “universal,” which embodies Centura’s main goal: to make everyone feel welcome.
He also highlighted the company’s values: compassion, respect, integrity, spirituality, stewardship, imagination, excellence.
“Values aren’t just words on the wall here; they are our way of doing business. This is how we expect to treat each other. This is how we choose our partners,” Banko said. “Today is three years of preparation. We started this process three years ago because we wanted you to be part of our ecosystem. We want to be in this community. We want to help build this community.
And these values apply not only to Centura’s patients, but also to their employees. Over the past year, Centura has listened to its employees, increasing associate compensation by approximately 12% and offering retention bonuses, loan forgiveness and childcare. And five of the top 100 hospitals in the United States report to Centura Health.
Prof. Timothy Corbley of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs was then invited to speak before blessing the building and the hands of those who work there.
“I’m a small town boy myself, so I know the importance of good quality health care in rural America and how essential it really is. It is a blessing to be here to bless, because being part of the healing is extremely important. We can look around and see all that is wrong with the world. We can see pain and suffering, but when people come together to heal others, there is the presence of God. What we aspire to today is to see that touch of healing,” he said.
He also announced that St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is named after Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, a nun in the Catholic Church who founded the Sisters of Charity.
Patrick Gaughan, Senior Vice President and Director of Values Integration at Centura Health, shared more about St. Elizabeth’s story.
She was born in New York in 1774, two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Originally raised as an Episcopalian by her doctor and humanitarian father, she became a Catholic at the age of 30 after her husband’s death. St. Elizabeth went on to open a school, the first Catholic orphanage in America, and the first American congregation of nuns (the Sisters of Charity).
“There are some interesting similarities between the life of St. Elizabeth and the rich history of this hospital. Consider the pioneers who started the hospital to meet the needs of this community, especially women and children. This hospital was largely dedicated and led by amazing innovative doctors and a very influential woman, Ms Ivo Dyer, a nurse,” Gaughan said.
Dyer, with the help of his mother and sister, turned his own home into Fort Morgan’s first-ever hospital. She moved five years later, but returned in just two years to help open a proper hospital here in Fort Morgan. This Lincoln Street hospital has now been in operation for 70 years.
“Their story demonstrates an enduring dedication to understanding and responding to the needs and challenges of rural America and still inspires Centura today to create health and wholeness, as evidenced by celebrating you and this name change to honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton, the founder of the Sisters of Charity,” Gaughan said.
The ceremony ended with a prayer and the blessings of Fr. Corbley, who blessed the image of Saint Elizabeth, as well as those present, with holy water.
“It’s people who create healing, care and love,” he said. “(We) bless things to recognize where God is working.”