By Grace Weber
JACKSON – July 1, 2020, marks the one-year anniversary of St. Dominic Health Services joining the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. This time last year, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, who are the sponsors of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, completed a transition of sponsorship from the Dominican Sisters for St. Dominic Health Services which is the only Catholic healthcare facility in Mississippi. With the completion of the transfer, St. Dominic’s became the seventh regional center, and first in Mississippi, served by FMOLHS which has grown to include other facilities since then.
Prayer and patron saints have always played an important role in Catholic healthcare. Fittingly, in the early 13th century, St. Francis and St. Dominic who were the two patrons of FMOLHS and St. Dominic’s sponsorships, respectively, are believed to have met while in Rome for the Fourth Lateran Council. The two men quickly developed a close bond enriched by their common goal of founding their orders, despite the many obstacles they both faced. In tribute to their inspired friendship, for the last year a specially written prayer titled Companions on the Journey has been used to guide today’s organizations’ integration into a single system ministry. Together, the Health System is faithfully serving those most in need in both Louisiana and Mississippi.
“I look back over the past year and am inspired by what’s been accomplished across our entire health system. We welcomed St. Dominic’s into our System ministry with the mindset of collaboration and learning from one another as we are together sustaining and growing the healing mission of Catholic healthcare in Mississippi. Today, St. Dominic’s remains an important beacon of hope and healing as our communities face the incredible challenge of COVID-19 and the local impact of a global pandemic,” said Dr. Richard Vath, president and CEO of FMOLHS. “St. Dominic’s ministry had been an asset to the Jackson community for more than 70 years, and one in which we all look forward to continuing to serve for generations to come.”
“Over the last year, we have experienced firsthand the blessing of being part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System and the benefit especially to our patients and community,” said Lester Diamond, president of St. Dominic’s. “With the help and support of FMOLHS, St. Dominic’s is making important and timely progress as today’s healthcare industry continues to rapidly evolve. Despite industry change, our commitment and care for the families of Mississippi is unwavering. None of us could have predicted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and now our response as a strong and integrated health system assures St. Dominic’s legacy of high-quality, compassionate healthcare is protected for the people of Mississippi.”
Since the transition last July, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System opened the freestanding Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and welcomed Our Lady of Lourdes Heart Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana.