My Ministry in Providence Health System

Reflection by Sister Susanne Hartung, SP

After 20 years in secondary education:  teaching and administration, the leadership of our community asked me to consider going into health care as a mission leader. Not knowing with any certainty of what the role entailed, I took a full year of discernment.

In 1987, I began my ministry in healthcare at Providence Medical Center Seattle (known now as Swedish Cherry Hill.) My first assignment was to chair the ethics committee composed of physicians, nurses, and support staff. It was daunting as I had no knowledge of what I was to do. I was mentored daily by Father Reilly who attended and guided my every step. With a need for greater study in ethics, I was able to attend the University of Leuven in Belgium. It helped me with the process of ethical discernment of which I continue to rely on today.

Over these many years my experiences and learnings have continued to grow. I was asked to join the Board of Directors which help me understand the bigger picture and the complex decisions that have to be made.

I have served as the Vice President for Mission Integration on all the teams at the System office. This role includes interviewing possible senior leaders, teaching the mission and values to teams and the history of our congregation with the sole purpose of keeping alive the culture of the Sisters of Providence and including the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph. I also provide ethical discernments on matters that need very thoughtful decisions.  I serve on the faculty of the Leadership Formation Institute. I also have established and lead pilgrimages to Providence Academy and to Montreal for our leadership teams.

Twelve years ago, I had a needs assessment done for the Renton location. We looked at the needs of our community. From that we established the Mission Ambassadors program with the sole purpose of having our office caregivers give service to the homeless. Having engaged with the executives of ten different agencies, today we serve the marginalized throughout our seven states and have caregivers serving monthly with these selected partners. It is one of my most gratifying accomplishments.

Two years ago, I was asked to leave the system office and become part of the leadership of the newly formed Puget Sound Region. It was a big challenge as I was asked to integrate the secular Swedish organization with the faith-based Providence Everett, Olympia, and Centralia. Less than a year later, a newly structured North Division was developed. I now serve on that leadership team which also includes Alaska. I have been fortunate in hiring highly gifted mission leaders in these service areas. My role continues with the focus of assuring that we keep our Mission alive and that we always act with our five core values: compassion, dignity, justice, excellence, and integrity. My role continues to assure that to we never forget the poor and vulnerable in all that we do. Providence of God we Thank you for all.