Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, Ascension President and Chief Executive Officer, has a long history of service to Catholic healthcare in the United States. But his international role as President of the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions is the focus of an article in the current edition of Catholic Health World, a publication of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.
Dr. Tersigni is in his second year of a four-year term leading this committee of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, which supports and promotes the work of Catholic organizations in healthcare around the world. The group studies healthcare policy, explains church teaching on health issues, and fosters connections that could bring the resources and knowledge of the developed world to bear on healthcare issues in the developing world.
Dr. Tersigni says participating in the global nature of the work “has really been an eye-opener, to see the challenges and opportunities we face in common as we seek to live out our mission and service, even though we may be coming from very different realities.”
“It's amazing to see how river blindness may be a very important issue in one part of the world, and it's something we know is curable in this part of the world,” he says. “It’s trying to gain an understanding of what the issues really are, and how we can use expertise from around the world to begin treating those diseases we know can be eradicated.”
In addition to describing the work of the group, Dr. Tersigni discusses specific tasks Pope Francis has charged it with related to improving global health and care for those living in poverty.
Pope Francis “wanted us to continue to improve public health around the world,” Dr. Tersigni says. “He stressed, and I agree, that it can’t be achieved by isolated agencies and organizations working independently. It’s only through collaborations that we can improve health and the common good.”
Asked about the responsibilities of Catholic healthcare providers in the developed world to counterparts in poorer nations, Dr. Tersigni notes that Ascension has taken several steps to demonstrate its global commitment.
“We’ve established a subsidiary organization called Ascension Global Mission that oversees our international efforts and really strives to improve the health and living status for poor and vulnerable populations in developing countries,” he says.
“In most cases, we collaborate with local and global communities to foster long-term, sustainable change. What we're trying to do through Ascension Global Mission, working with other partners, is (to focus on) building the necessary infrastructure.”
Another collaboration, Dr. Tersigni says, is Ascension’s partnership with Narayana Health and the government of the Cayman Islands to create Health City Cayman Islands. “It was really meant to bring tertiary care services for the first time to many areas of the Caribbean, Central and South America,” he says.