Raising our voice: Three ways you can help

Recently, we surveyed opinion leaders in one of the larger communities we serve and asked what they think about Providence. Nearly all of them associated us with high quality patient care, which is no surprise given our reputation and tradition of caring.

But one finding that caught my attention – and corroborates something I have also felt – is that local leaders in this particular community think of us as a “quiet presence” even though they know we are a vital part of the safety net. One person described us as a “well-kept secret.” Another said:

“From what I have observed historically, Providence has not called attention to itself out of its value of humility. But it could do more to promote itself in this community and elevate awareness of the important work it does.”

Though this was just one survey in one local community, it’s likely consistent with how leaders at the national level have traditionally thought of Providence. They know we stand for quality and that we’ve been serving communities for a long time, but they aren’t that familiar with our strategies for the future, or the incredible things our caregivers do for the patients we serve.

Telling our story at the national level

As your president and CEO, I am passionate about advocating for Providence and the caregivers who work tirelessly on behalf of our Mission. I believe it’s critically important for leaders at the highest levels of the country to understand and support the work that all of you do.

I also believe strongly that Providence has to be the voice for the poor and vulnerable and serve as a leader in transforming health care in our five states and nationally. 

During the past couple months, I traveled to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago to share our story with any leader who would listen, from policy makers and government officials to social service agencies, trade associations, business executives and even reporters.

The great news is that people were eager to hear from Providence and welcomed me with open arms. I found myself meeting with influential leaders from morning to night, talking about our work in local communities, our outreach to the underserved, and our innovative approaches to everything from accountable care to digital care. Our messages resonated, and each person I met said they were impressed and enthusiastic about what we are doing.

We are all ambassadors

While I will continue to be an active voice for Providence, I believe we are all ambassadors and that each of us can play a role in getting our story out there. I have three specific ideas for how the caregivers of Providence can help, and I welcome your suggestions, too.

1. If you’re proud of the work your Providence ministry does for the community, talk to friends, family and neighbors about it. Let them know how Providence is making a difference at the local level.

2. Get involved with your professional associations and give presentations at conferences to share your expertise and best practices. Many of you are experts in your fields. Let’s showcase our talent and share our knowledge.

3. If there are newsworthy success stories happening on your teams, let our marketing communication folks know so they can help spread the word inside and outside the organization.

It will take all of us to raise our voice, and there are no better ambassadors for Providence than the people who live and breathe the Mission every day.


Washington, D.C.

Mother Joseph 3

Mother Joseph represents the state of Washington at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Long before Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft, she was an original Northwest pioneer. She led the way for health, education and social services when there were no schools, no hospitals, and when people struggled to meet basic needs. In this picture, I am joined by Joel Gilbertson, our senior VP of community partnerships and external affairs, and Alison Santore, our senior director of federal government affairs.



At the annual assembly of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), I was proud to see two of our leaders recognized on a national stage for the positive impact of their work.  Our Tomorrow’s Leaders award winners were Aimee Khuu, director of Providence Health International (pictured here with CHA’s Sister Carol Keehan), and Babak Goldman, M.D., medical director for palliative care at Providence Saint Joseph’s in California. Our colleagues at Swedish also were invited as guest presenters to share their innovative approach to specialty and dental care for the uninsured.

New York


While in New York for our annual review with the bond rating agencies, Hospitals and Health Networks interviewed me about our strategies for the future. It was a great opportunity to talk about where we’re headed, as well as remind everyone that Providence doesn’t have shareholders. As a not-for-profit, every dollar we make gets reinvested back into local communities. Watch the interview.






  1. Great post! As the program manager for sourcing top talent to join Providence, we are always looking at ways to utilize our caregivers as advocates for the brand. Telling your story to friends/family is a fantastic start. Another great way to share your story is through social media. I’d encourage all to connect and engage on our company pages. In TA we are improving our employment brand image through our careers Facebook page and we now have over 30,000 followers on the Providence and Swedish LinkedIn company pages. Become a brand ambassador by following us on LinkedIn at Providence Health & Services and Swedish and liking us on Facebook at Providence Health & Services Facebook Careers. Feel free to share your stories or anything you see posted with your own personal network. The power of the social network is growing and this is a great opportunity to share the message of the great work we do here with the masses.


    Providence LinkedIn Page – http://www.linkedin.com/company/165568?trk=tyah&trkInfo=tarId%3A1403197470091%2Ctas%3AProvidence%20Health%2Cidx%3A2-1-4

    Swedish LinkedIn Page – http://www.linkedin.com/company/166212?trk=tyah&trkInfo=tarId%3A1403197557967%2Ctas%3ASwed%2Cidx%3A3-1-7

    Providence Health & Services Careers Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Providence-Health-Services-Careers/149986781681411

  2. Hello Rod – The reported (but undisclosed by PH&S) purchase price of $15 million for naming rights at Providence Park in Portland (formally JELD-WEN field) would be a pretty visible action for getting this word out to the community here. Sponsorship of the Special Olympics, etc. Not exactly humble, but does the valued community work.

  3. Rod, I really appreciate your three ideas and, in support of numbers 2 and 3, want to add that other healthcare organizations share their strengths, through presenting ideas and best practices at nationally-acknowledged association conferences and retreats or publishing through industry/association publications/newsletters. It may seem like a big goal AND it can be very rewarding to share something that makes one proud about working here, while providing potential insights to those who are in need. Thank you, Tricia

  4. I just joined Providence back in April and relocated to the area from Naples, Florida. I come to the organization already established as an active volunteer in a professional organization, HFMA. The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) is a national association with over 40,000 members across the country and helps healthcare finance professionals:

    Tackle the enormous challenges, major opportunities, intense scrutiny, and daily pressures
    Stay informed on fast-moving developments
    Connect with those who are setting the pace
    Improve performance through education, resources, and connections
    Advance their career

    I appreciate your encouragement to get involved with a professional organization and grateful that I have been allowed to continue in my role as Chapter President for the Florida Chapter of the HFMA. We are 1500 members strong and I am giving Providence exposure in the state of Florida as well as nationally as I presented to all HFMA chapters at the annual leadership conference in May in Washington DC.

    Along with being an ambassador for Providence in my role with the HFMA, the leadership experience has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. I have been able to develop skills through leading committees and serving on the board of directors including facilitating a strategic planning session. I have been able to develop relationships and network with healthcare systems from around the country and learn about industry best practices. Getting involved with a professional organization is a win-win. Thank you Rod for encouraging it.

    If anybody would like to learn more about HFMA, please message me.

    Thank you,
    Billie Jean

    • Billie Jean – Welcome to Providence. Thanks for all the work you are doing with your professional organization. It’s great for Providence and I’m glad to hear it’s rewarding for you as well. -Rod

  5. Hello, I am Laura Weekley RN and I live in Anchorage, Alaska. I was told that Mountain View neighborhood was NOT the place to live or buy a home. In keeping the story short, I will say that I could have purchased a home just about anywhere, but I feel that I am so fortunate to be able to buy a home and live here in Mt. View. I could write a book (I think I will) of how utterly wonderful it is to be here. There are opportunities to share Providence’s mission here and to enjoy the sweetest, most simple pleasures of home and community than anywhere I have lived, or have imagined living. I believe in Providence and the beautiful people it serves. As a person of Providence, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to reveal God’s Love for all in my actions at work, but mostly where I live for there are many poor and vulnerable people (sometimes I am vulnerable and Mt. View residents reveal God’s Love to me!). Mother Teresa did not live in a mansion apart from people she served, but among them. It is not a sacrifice. It is a privilege.

    • Laura – Thank you for the beautiful note. It’s great to hear your commitment to a community like Mountain View. -Best, Rod

  6. Unfortunately my suggestion isn’t about what an individual or group can do, instead about what the organization might do.
    * Create a strategy that speaks about “Providence in Puget Sound” for visibility.

    When I think of Puget Sound geogaphically, it is not just Seattle as it starts up north where the waters turn south towards Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, etc. Help people out there visualize the presence in this geographical area of Providence: Everett, Edmonds, Ballard (and the locks from salt water to fresh water), Seattle, Renton/Burien area, Tacoma, and Olympia. That covers the NW region of WA with Everett, the SW Region of WA with Olympia/Centralia, the SHS region of Swedish, PSCS for Senior Community Services, and PSMS for the system office in Renton. Add up all the caregivers from those regions and the organization is a big employer of the area that many in the area do not realize is here.

    Puget Sound Business Journal online busniess directory doesn’t list Providence H&S under healthcare or non-profits. It does list Swedish Medical Center under healthcare.

    Also, if Providence is the largest Catholic based healthcare in WA, I would assume that it would be a good strategy to lead the way in the state capitol for overcoming the fear of Catholic based healthcare (fear that comes from perceptions about taking over and limiting services. The great example of PH&S bring Swedish into the fold and not limiting services is something that can help diminsh the fear.

    • Hi Diana – Thanks for the comment. All great ideas, and I appreciate you sharing them. I know our teams in Western Washington are working to raise awareness about the scope of our services in Puget Sound. As you point out, we serve a contiguous geography from Centralia to Everett, so we’re able to meet community needs and increase access in a way that few others can. To your point about the local Business Journal, I believe Providence has made it onto a number of its annual lists. For example, Providence Everett is the busiest hospital in the region by admissions. Swedish First Hill is second busiest, and Providence Saint Peter is fourth, so we clearly are a vital part of the safety net and fabric.
      http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/subscriber-only/2014/02/07/hospital-admissions.html The Business Journal also ranks Providence as the region’s sixth largest employer (after Boeing, the joint Army/Air Force base, the Navy, Microsoft and university system). Swedish is also on the list as the 18th largest employer. So I think you’re right, we play a very significant role in the community, and we have a great story to tell, especially as it relates to serving the poor and vulnerable. Thanks again for taking the time to write in.

  7. Agreed. While “telling our story at a national level” is important, we really must do a better job of messaging in our own region. This Puget Sound Business Journal article published last week has been amended a couple of times but still prominently lacks Providence/Swedish response to community concerns. This is not the time for “quiet presence” – people pay attention to “no comment”. http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/health-care-inc/2014/07/angry-neighbors-speak-out-on-swedish-expansion.html

    • Hi L. My name is Clay and I work at Swedish. We greatly appreciate your comment! Swedish has been working for more than a year to address the proposed Cherry Hill Major Institution Master Plan through the appropriate public process that involves all stakeholders. Through this process, we have been very vocal about serving the future health needs of the community while working to preserve and support the vision of the hospital’s neighbors. Unfortunately, this article did not provide Swedish time to comment, but we are working with the author to provide comment in an upcoming piece. Although Swedish and Providence are partners in improving the health of our local communities, the Cherry Hill MIMP is a Swedish project.

  8. All politics is local.
    Last week an editorial spoke slightingly of Mother Joseph as a representative for our state in D.C….Sr. Judy Desmaris responded, but no voice from our Ph&S; today a story ran, again, about the fear of Cathoic health care limiting service. We need a lot better local press on what we are doing and have been doing for 157 years…. in fact everyone i know in Seattle believe Swedish took over Providence and they are only vaguely aware of hospitals in Everett and Olympia…we need to self-promote right here, where we are, not just nationally!

    • Hi Patrick – Thanks for the comment. You are right. We need to tell our story in our local communities as well as nationally, and I know there is a lot of good work happening at the local level to raise awareness. As for the letter to the editor, Providence did submit a response to the Times but the paper chose to run the letter from Sister Judith instead. I found it interesting that the Times said all the responses they received supported keeping the current statues in place. -Rod