HHS Secretary Praises Mercy

August 2, 2011

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human

Services Kathleen Sebelius visited Mercy

hospitals in Joplin, Mo., and Aurora, Mo.

Cheryl Rutledge, St. John's Hospital - Aurora

cardiac rehab nurse, greets Kathleen Sebelius

during her hospital tour.


St. John's Regional Division President Dr. David

Barbe, was among the panelists in a discussion

on rural health care with Kathleen Sebelius.

Sisters of Mercy Health System (Mercy) welcomed U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to Mercy hospitals in Joplin and Aurora Aug. 1.

Sebelius, who spent six years as governor of Kansas before joining President Barack Obama's cabinet in 2009, is leading the administration's effort to move doctors and hospitals to computerized medical records. She praised Mercy for being among the very few health systems in the country to adopt the use of electronic health records, and for quick recovery efforts following the Joplin tornado.

In Aurora, she followed a tour with a  listening session with rural physicians, nurses and health care administrators, as well as consumers and local business leaders, on how to help inform the ongoing work of the White House Rural Council. In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council.

Mercy operates 15 critical access hospitals.  In Missouri:  Mountain View, Cassville and Aurora. The St. John’s affiliated CAHs are Joint Commission accredited which indicates a significant level of quality. In Arkansas:  Berryville, Ozark, Paris and Waldron.  In Oklahoma:  Guthrie, Healdton, Kingfisher, Marietta, Sulfur, Tishomingo and Watonga. In Kansas:  Columbus.

Rural communities face different health care and wellness issues than larger metropolitan areas. Receiving health care services may be challenging in remote areas due to travelling long distances to see a physician for routine checkups or screenings.  It may also be difficult to get to a hospital quickly in an emergency. Rural areas often have fewer doctors and dentists, and certain specialists may not be available.  Because of this, the health of rural Missouri residents may be more serious by the time of diagnosis.  Therefore, it is critical for the safety and well-being of rural citizens that quality health care services be maintained in rural areas.

Mercy has long been committed to insuring the residents in rural areas have access to high-quality health services close to home. Operating both rural health care clinics and critical access hospitals throughout the Midwest United States, Mercy integrates the care provided in these smaller towns and locales with the highly sub-specialized care provided at their larger facilities in Springfield, St. Louis and Oklahoma City. The result: state-of-the-art care for all patients, no matter where they live.

“Rural hospitals provide essential health services to the community.  They deliver essential health care services to their citizens and are an important source of economic growth and stability in their local economy,” said Doug Stroemel, St. John’s Hospital –Aurora president.  “The growth and stability comes from their direct provision of jobs, indirect support of local services and health care employees spending on commodities and services.”  In addition, health care providers offer health insurance for their employees and pay taxes to the community.

Supplemental Materials

Media Contacts

Sonya Kullmann
Branson, Cassville, Lebanon, Mountain View, Rolla, Springfield, Aurora
Phone: 417-820-2426