Dear Santa: A Christmas wish of health for all from Providence

December 3, 2019 Susanne Hartung

A message and Christmas wish from Sister Susanne Hartung on behalf of Providence Health & Services. 

Dear Santa,

It’s been quite a year, wouldn’t you agree? Certainly a challenging one for humans and Mother Nature alike, with so many changes happening at a quickening pace.

At Providence St. Joseph Health, we’re in the throes of change ourselves. Beyond our continued technological innovations, our family of organizations is evolving to meet the needs of all the people we serve. We’re on a quest to connect and transform our diverse health care system in ways that will enable us to continue living our mission of love and service, especially for those who are poor and vulnerable.

We believe unifying our care centers across seven states makes us stronger, better suited to respond to physical and mental health issues and other basic social needs like homelessness.

Santa, I know you’re busy, but maybe you’ve seen some of the work we’ve done this year. Housing is Health reflects our investment – financially, physically and spiritually – in finding solutions to homelessness in the seven states we serve, where nearly 200,000 people (or 36% of people who are experiencing homelessness in America) do not have a place to call home. Santa, this includes children. You, of all people, can imagine the emotional and physical toll on our little ones when they don’t have a warm bed to crawl into and when they lack the stability to experience the joys of this great life.

In the seven states we serve, nearly 200,000 people (or 36% of people who are experiencing homelessness in America) do not have a place to call home. Santa, this includes children. 

By weaving a tapestry of alliances and pooling resources with other organizations who share our vision and values, we’re determined to bring homeless families and individuals in from the cold, to help them regain their footing and sense of security.

We’re also deeply invested in the mental health and well-being of our communities – particularly those who don’t have resources to help themselves or their families get care.  When we launched our Health is a Human Right campaign in 2018, we put a stake in the ground, voicing our belief that Medicaid is an essential part of the health of society. Millions of people – particularly children, seniors and those with disabilities – rely on this program for their most basic health care. We’re working extremely hard to ensure this safety net remains intact for those who need it most.

There’s so much more to do to help make the world better and healthier, and Providence has no intention of slowing down. With a strong 175-year foundation of serving the most vulnerable in our communities, we’re continuing to pioneer today, with a “start-up” mentality to develop more nimble, innovative approaches to expand our reach and connect with more people in the seven states we serve, and beyond.

Santa, I wanted to give you a little background on the work we’ve been doing as I know you share our vision of a healthier and happier world.

My one wish from you this Christmas is to help us help more people in need. As you set out on your night ride to bring joy to families everywhere, will you shine your light on the most vulnerable children and families so we can better serve them? Maybe they don’t know where to turn, or have lost hope. Maybe they believe no one cares. Please light the way, Santa, so Providence caregivers can help where the need is greatest, whether it’s by providing physical or mental health care, housing or spiritual support.

Be blessed on your midnight ride as you welcome the Prince of Peace, Santa.


Sister Susanne Hartung

About the Author

Susanne Hartung

Susanne Hartung, SP, chief mission integration officer for shared services at Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH), is a tireless community champion. Having recently celebrated her 60 year jubilee as a Sister of Providence, her fundamental belief is: To know the poor, you have to serve the poor. In her role at PSJH, she is responsible for integrating the Mission and core values into the everyday work and culture for more than 12,000 caregivers (all employees) from across the organization in seven states. She also serves on executive teams that are responsible for administrative initiatives. Sister Susanne is bold in her approach to ensure that the Mission – to serve the poor and vulnerable – is first and foremost in every decision at the system level.

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