"Our congregation was only in healthcare. That was our focus. We got very good at it," she says. She speaks in the past tense, because her order is no longer recruiting for vocations, and as the sisters age, their numbers become fewer and fewer.
"For those of us who are from congregations of women, this has been our life," she says. "What we recognize and appreciate is that for people we work with, it's not their whole life. They go home to spouses and children and have something beyond the workplace. Not to say they're less dedicated, but it is not their whole life. It's good that it isn't."
SSM has a new leader, but he's a familiar face. William "Bill" Thompson has been with SSM or its predecessors for 31 years, and was named Sister Mary Jean's successor.
He lists improving quality and safety for patients; making services more efficient; and improving the quality of care at the same or lower cost as his chief strategic objectives as he takes over. "I've been preparing for this role for two years," said Thompson. "It's a privilege, and it's also an awesome responsibility."