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Sexual Harassment Training

ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) – The office of Leadership Development of MC USA will hold Investigator Training for Ministerial Misconduct to take place on March 2-4, 2018 in the Elkhart, Indiana office. By offering the training, MC USA seeks to create a pool of trained investigators should the event of misconduct arise anywhere in the denomination. Each area conference has been asked to send one or two participants to the training.

In order to make the training more accessible, MC USA and the Panel for Sexual Abuse Prevention will jointly cover all of the registration costs for people sent as area conference participants. Mennonite colleges, agencies and sister denominations are also invited to join the training with a registration rate of $350 per person. The misconduct training will be led by FaithTrust Institute, a multifaith organization that provides tools to address issues related to sexual abuse prevention and response.

“We take all misconduct complaints seriously and want to handle them with as much integrity as possible,” says Nancy Kauffmann, denominational minister of MC USA. “One of the ways we want to help equip conferences to respond appropriately when the need arises is to have a pool of trained investigators in our system." 

By creating a pool of trained investigators, MC USA is making efforts to change denominational culture—equipping people with education and tools so that more are prepared to recognize abuse, listen to victims and hold leaders accountable, Kauffman explained.

“Our office is committed to zero tolerance of ministerial sexual misconduct,” said Terry Shue, director of Leadership Development. “Two ways we currently work at this is by providing resources for ministerial healthy boundaries and developing a network of investigators of misconduct as our commitment to the church.” 

For questions about the training, contact Nancy Kauffmann at NancyK@MennoniteUSA.org or 574-523-3054.

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Mim's Corner - 01/31/2018

Have you noticed some changes in the communications activity from MHS?

If you follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn, you've noticed more updates about Health Assembly and member programs. We also launched a new website that has fresh content, better photos and is mobile friendly. All of these changes are thanks to our new communications partners at ColorWord Creative, led by Amanda Garcia.

In 2018, we'll use your feedback from the annual member survey to make sure we communicate to you in ways that are fresh and relevant. We'll continue the emphasis on storytelling that we're rolling out at Mennonite Health Assembly, March 8 to 10 in Pittsburgh. Remember to register at www.mhsonline.org.

 

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01/10/2018 Blog Post - Words From Rick

Or rather, the “nearly last words.”

I am the soon-to-be-former CEO of MHS—a transition that began in May of 2017 when the board and I agreed to a few features of the process and will end this coming April.

I am often asked, “How is it really going?” Reasonably well, I think, but we don’t get to practice this very often. I will offer a few mid-season comments:

There is clarity. I no longer wonder how will I know and when will this end? The board and staff don’t wonder: we know.

There is a plan. The staff, board and I have outlined the basic elements of a transition plan and timeline. The staff has been invaluable in preparing for a smooth transition. The board has adopted a strategic priority for 2018, focused specifically on “ending well.” They have energetically leaned into the process, always understanding when to engage me as well as when to take the reins. This has been very healthy.

There is focus. A plan requires focus. I am working with vigor on what I can do best, while staff members work with continued energy and high morale. There are some uncertainties, but the staff has confidence in the board, my successor, and the long-term importance of their work. Certainly, there are new opportunities and challenges before us, but they will wait for the next CEO and a new season.

There are some questions. These are mostly mine. Did I work on the right stuff in the right ways? What might we have accomplished with other choices? Have we wisely managed opportunities and resources? Have we carried out our mission? Those questions won’t go away for a while. That’s OK.

There is already some grief. Relationships, shaped over many years, are changing. This is true with trusted staff, member executives, boards, clients, and church leaders. I don’t like grief, but it’s a testimony to meaningful relationships.

There is trust. The high trust between board, executives, and staff is the most critical ingredient in this ending season.

At the beginning of this process, the chair of the board expressed her hope that this experience would be a blessed transition. I am confident that her hopes have been realized.

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12/15/2017 News release - Puerto Rico: Not Forgotten

GOSHEN, Ind.—Carolyn Hoderread Heggen, PhD, returned from Puerto Rico on December 8, 2017, after completing an assessment trip sponsored by MHS in cooperation with Mennonite Disaster Service.

She reports that, from the air, blue FEMA tarps, piles of debris, and damage to the normally lush landscape are visible effects of Hurricane Maria. Broken stoplights, uprooted trees, and ruined household items lining inland roads of San Juan are on-the-ground evidence of the devastating storm.

Many small communities are still without telephone service, internet, running water, and electricity, and even residents of larger towns have no indication of when neighborhood power will be restored. Those in poor, rural communities have had no contact from FEMA or other governmental agencies and wonder if the government has forgotten them.

Transportation is severely limited. Landslides have blocked mountainous roads and numerous large pieces of highway have fallen into the valley below. In some places, travel by car is becoming even more treacherous as rains weaken the supporting soil now stripped of vegetation.

Residents must wait in lines to buy gasoline for generators and vehicles. Many walk to conserve fuel, which is also hazardous due to downed wires and poles, damaged sidewalks, and debris that forces pedestrians to share the street with cars.

Food is scarce. Because so much agriculture was destroyed, few local fruits or vegetables are available and what remains is outrageously expensive. The dairy industry has been seriously affected; several mothers reported that their small children have been crying for milk and don’t understand why it’s not available. The chicken industry has also been devastated. A Mennonite chicken farmer in Pulguillas lost between 90,000 and 100,000 chickens, still has no electricity, and is, therefore, unable to hatch eggs to replace those that died. In the meantime, the price of eggs and chicken meat has skyrocketed.

Education has stalled. Staff, parents, and volunteers (including a team from Indiana/Virginia) have worked diligently to re-open classes at Academia Menonita Betania with support from Mennonite Education Agency. The campus has no electricity or running water, several roofs are missing or damaged, and 12 students have left to live with relatives and attend classes in the US, yet school director Sr. Veldez remains committed to resuming students’ education.

Many residents are experiencing symptoms of traumatic stress. In addition to the original trauma of living through a long-lasting hurricane, the stressors of its subsequent destruction continue with no end in sight. Some individuals reported their hearts beating so fast and hard that they hurt. Others had visibly shaking hands and lips. Many seemed to be suffering from severe depression. Several reported that their brains weren’t “working right,” and displayed cognitive confusion and disorientation. Fear is prevalent, as are feelings of abandonment. Heggen reports that the phrase she heard most often was, “Estoy tan cansada.”  (I am so tired.)

Some individuals reported feelings of anger—at the government and the insensitive things President Trump has said about Puerto Ricans, or at local authorities for not cleaning streets faster or restoring water and electricity. Some don’t know where to direct their anger, and several confessed anger toward God while asking profound spiritual questions about God’s love, omnipotence, and silence.

Many Puerto Ricans are evacuating. The Puerto Rican government has indicated that more than 500,000 people have fled to the US. One airport employee stated that more than 600 cars have been abandoned at the airport with keys inside and plates removed, the owners having left the country. Thirteen elderly people were carried in wheelchairs onto Heggen’s returning flight, all on their way to live with adult children in the US. One woman said she was depressed to leave but couldn’t survive alone in her leaking house without water or a way to get food.

And yet, there is hope. Amidst the severe damage and ongoing struggle in Puerto Rico, there remain signs of tenacity, compassion, and courage of its people. Individuals, particularly those in churches, seem to be aware of the needs of others—especially the infirmed and elderly. Local Mennonite churches are sharing food and watching over the elderly. The Aibonito Mennonite Church has placed a washer and dryer in their social hall and invited the community to use it. Even those who have little seem to be sharing with those who have less; many have amazing resilience.

Still, Puerto Rico has many needs. Heggen reports that Mennonite Disaster Service’s presence is appropriate and appreciated, as is MHS’s effort to provide support for psychological recovery. The outpouring of support from the North is much appreciated by the local people who are grateful to not be forgotten.

During her assessment visit to the island, Heggen was a guest speaker at a women’s gathering that was attended by 65 individuals from six congregations. She addressed the physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and relational ways we are affected by trauma, and focused on ways to create an “internal sanctuary” in the midst of chaos.

Heggen also led a workshop for the teachers and staff at Academia Menonita Betania, discussing ways to identify students who may need help, what to expect in traumatized children, and healing ways to intervene. She supplied the school with several copies of a Spanish translation of, “A Terrible Thing Happened,” a book by Margaret M. Holmes, and led an assembly for all intermediate grade students.

At Hospital Menonita Heggen met with eight cancer patients who were receiving chemotherapy infusions, a hospitalized father of a Mennonite woman suffering from ovarian cancer, and the hospital chaplain. She also visited pastors and congregants in other towns who had lost or damaged homes. 

MHS urges constituents to not forget Puerto Rico in prayer and to consider a donation of dollars and/or volunteer hours to Mennonite Disaster Service. Any mental health professionals with trauma training who are interested in volunteering should be in touch with Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship by calling Deloris Rhodes at 1-888-406-3643 or emailing Deloris@mennohealth.org. And those interested in directly supporting the work of Carolyn Holderread Heggen and other trauma specialists can send tax-deductible contributions to MHS at 1112 North Main St., Goshen, Indiana 46528.
 

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11/21/2017 News release - MHS appoints new CEO

GOSHEN, Ind.—The MHS Board of directors has named Karen E. Lehman as CEO of MHS, effective May 1, 2018.

Lehman has more than 25 years of leadership experience in both senior living and acute care. She has consistently and efficiently navigated organizations through various transitions to achieve financial viability, while simultaneously providing stability and new strategic goals. Her capacity to be both visionary and operationally “hands-on,” along with her effective communications skills, have resulted in Lehman’s successful recruitment and development of strong senior leaders.

“We are particularly excited that Karen will be taking this leadership role at MHS because of her commitment to our Anabaptist distinctives,” says MHS Board Chair, Laurie Neumann Nafziger. “In addition to her healthcare experience, the fact that she has recently worked as an MHS consultant allows her a unique understanding of MHS culture and values.”

The search committee has been actively seeking a successor for current MHS CEO, Rick Stiffney, since he announced his retirement in spring of 2017. The committee included four MHS board members, the chair of the MHS consulting board, a representative from Mennonite Church USA, and MHS agency staff. “We appreciated input from our various stakeholders as we sifted through a diverse and impressive pool of exceptional candidates,” says Neumann Nafziger.

Lehman’s appointment has also been approved by the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA. She will assume her position immediately following Stiffney’s retirement in May 2018.

Prior to this appointment, Lehman’s most recent experience has been serving as CEO of The Community at Rockhill in Sellersville, Pennsylvania. Her executive leadership roles also include eight years as COO of Greencroft Communities in Goshen, Indiana, three years as Executive Director of Friends House Retirement Community in Sandy Spring, Maryland, and two years at Pennswood Village in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

Lehman currently serves on the Everence Board of Directors and formerly on the Board of Directors for Jubilee Association of Maryland, Inc. She holds an MBA from Bluffton University and a Bachelor of Science in Health Information from Indiana University, Indiana University Medical Center. Lehman is also a licensed nursing home administrator. She resides in Goshen, Indiana with her husband, Kent Beck, where they attend College Mennonite Church.

MHS is a not-for-profit, faith-based, membership organization connecting Anabaptist-related health and human services providers together to stay true to our values and achieve the very best outcomes. Believing that we are stronger together, MHS offers centralized resources and values-centered consulting services that expand each member’s individual capacity for doing good, boost organizational effectiveness, and cultivate and support the next generation of non-profit leaders.


Creatively Celebrating Resilience 
Scores of epic tales begin with those four words, “once upon a time,” but words alone aren't enough to make a story great. The best stories require a hero to face risk, danger, and obstacles. Those are the stories that remain in our souls and inspire action.

And so it is with our own lives. 

We have the capacity to design, imagine, and inspire, but not without facing risk, disappointment, and even failure. It's only by persevering—despite turmoil and tragedy—that our story transforms into something truly great. Let's celebrate that.

Mennonite Health Assembly 2018 will be Celebrating Resilience in many ways, but especially through creative expression. “My vision is to bring together a group of creatives with a variety of specialties,” says assembly coordinator Vanessa Hofer. “I believe Assembly attendees will find an earnest and meaningful study and celebration of resilience when surrounded by live storytelling, visual art, music, and worship.”

With that in mind, Assembly attendees will enjoy music from award-winning players Ethan Setiawan and Sadie Gustafson-Zook, dramatic presentations from Ted Swartz and Billy Funk, and an introduction to “visual problem-solving” with artist and author Emily Marko.

“Of course, you don’t need to consider yourself an artist to have and to share a powerful story,” says Hofer, adding that four powerful stories about celebrating resilience will also be told by attendees whose submissions were selected in advance by the Assembly Planning Committee. “These incredible firsthand accounts will serve as groundwork for interactive discussions… I can’t wait for attendees to hear these stories of creative resilience within MHS member organization.”

This year’s gathering will be truly different than any prior. The request for stories and learning lab proposals for Assembly 2018 yielded excellent results, and our Planning Committee has been busy crafting a surprise-filled weekend of interactive and immersive programming, designed to both educate and energize.

Get ready to dive into topics like, “Misconceptions and Millennials: Perspectives, Opportunities & Challenges,” “The Ultimate Balancing Act: Mission vs. Success,” and “Stronger Together: Thriving through Consolidation.” And be sure to arrive in time to check out the pre-conference learning lab, “Dealing Effectively with Workplace Conflict,” led by Lee Schmucker, MHS Consulting Associate.

If you find you are often looking for creative ways to tackle big ideas with your employees or constituents, you’ll love what is in store. And for those looking for our usual excellent training for board members, you’ll find those resources, too.  

“I believe there is a healthy dose of creativity whenever resilience is at play. I am not sure the two can survive without one another,” says Hofer. “The very synonyms of creativity—inventiveness, imagination, innovation—are the action words that allow us to successfully overcome obstacles or recover from difficult circumstances.”

You are invited to come, be refreshed, encouraged, surprised, and delighted by stories of persistence told through spoken word and moments of creativity at Celebrate Resilience, Mennonite Health Assembly 2018.

Organizations that send four or more representatives are eligible for a group discount, and everyone can save $100 with early bird registration before February 2. First-time attendees are also invited to register at a special rate.

Join MHS on Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square. Register today at www.mhsonline.org/health-assembly.

Mennonite Health Assembly is co-sponsored by MHS and Everence.

 

After MariaCaguas Hospital, damaged by storms.
MHS’s response to disaster in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Rose Gillin and her brother, Jim Alvarez, grew up on the beautiful island Puerto Rico, but their recent homecoming was far from a celebration. Instead, they put their own heartache aside and used their exceptional qualifications and personal knowledge to assess damage done to their beloved island by hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Determined to deliver vital information to MHS, Gillin, an MD and Alvarez, CFO of Everence, assessed how MHS might give aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. “We want to offer support if there are ways that volunteer professionals can be helpful,” said MHS CEO Rick Stiffney about the dispatched team. The exploratory visit was also conducted with appreciation and strong support from Mennonite Disaster Service.

Gillin’s team remained in Puerto Rico for several days, but weak cellphone service and unreliable Internet prevented them from relaying detailed information. It wasn’t until their safe return to Indiana that they could present a full report.

“Everything looked different—devastated—especially the trees,” said Gillin about her childhood home. “As we talked with people, we could hear their pain, even as they were working together.”

The devastation didn’t end there. Most hospitals were—and still are—running on generators that require repairs after weeks of continuous use. Access to water is still limited, and there is concern about the safety of the water that is available. Many homes, churches, and schools have been damaged or destroyed. Driving is dangerous because of downed traffic signals and telephone poles.

Pharmacies are not able to fill prescriptions because they cannot access insurance companies for approval, which is of special concern for the sick and elderly. Diabetic patients are not able to refrigerate their insulin, and those on dialysis are facing an overwhelming treatment challenge.

But the suffering isn’t limited to those who are physically ailing. Nearly every resident is subject to damaging amounts of mental and emotional stress, causing many to lose sleep and fear for their safety. The inability to communicate with loved ones has produced anxiety in great measure. Wide-spread trauma has revealed a need for specialists and counselors in this area.

Even Sistema de Salud Menonita has been directly affected, reporting that more than 100 of their employees need to rebuild or replace their homes. The hospital system has donated $500,000 to support this effort with the goal of raising an additional $500,000.

Gillin and Alvarez’s findings mark the beginning of the work to come in Puerto Rico. There is a long and difficult road ahead, and recovery won’t be possible without continued aid.

In light of this, MHS is encouraging constituents to donate dollars and/or volunteer hours to Mennonite Disaster Service, which is working directly with Juan Carlos Colón, moderator of the local Mennonite Conference in Puerto Rico. Any healthcare professionals who are interested in volunteering should be in touch with Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship by calling Deloris Rhodes at 1-888-406-3643 or emailing Deloris@mennohealth.org.

Monies can also be donated to send Carolyn Holderread Heggen, PhD, and other trauma specialists to the island, as well as to the Sistema de Salud Menonita fund for their employees.

Tax-deductible contributions for the Sistema de Salud Menonita employee fund or to cover expenses for the assessment team and trauma specialists can be mailed to MHS at 1112 North Main St., Goshen, Indiana 46528.

And in the face of disaster, fear, and the unknown, all are invited to pray for pastors, institutional and hospital leaders, teachers, the sick and elderly, and those who are in need of healing of all kinds on the island of Puerto Rico.

How you can help:

Volunteer healthcare expertise by calling Deloris Rhodes at 888-406-3643.

Donate by sending checks to MHS, 1112 North Main Street, Goshen, Ind 46528.

 

Chinese Delegation Tours MHS Facilities 

For nearly two weeks in October, the China Christian Council Study Group explored more than a dozen senior living communities, met with MHS experts, attended workshops, and still managed to see the Liberty Bell during an intensive study of nonprofit older adult services in the state of Pennsylvania.

This group of Chinese delegates was comprised of nine executive leaders and translators and representatives from many different organizations, including Buddhist Master Jing Bo, Vice President of China Buddhist Association, and Xiao Lan of the Tian Ai Commonwealth Foundation in Shanghai.

These visitors arrived on October 15 and lost no time getting started. American hosts Myrrl Byler, Director of Mennonite Partners in China, and Ronald Yoder, International Program Advisor for MHS, welcomed the guests with a warm reception before whisking them off to the first of 13 different community tours.

Over the next five days, the study group visited diverse senior living communities with several objectives in mind. First, these visits showed the range of services available to older adults in the United States. Second, they provided an understanding of government and nonprofit/church-sponsored services—specifically in Pennsylvania. Third, they gave the visitors an opportunity to discover new types of older adult services that they might apply to their own facilities and programs.          

The group participated in worship services and Sunday School at East Chestnut Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they were heartily welcomed by pastor Todd Friesen and his wife Dennette. While there, they also enjoyed a presentation on church involvement in older adult services by MHS Senior Vice President, Emerson Lesher.  

Interactive learning filled the second half of the study group’s visit. Workshops covered a variety of topics on everything from management issues to fundraising to daily activities for residents. And this whirlwind tour finished with a banquet hosted by MHS and Anabaptist Providers Group.

 

Nominate an Emerging Leader

Do you know hardworking professionals under the age of 35 who are brimming with leadership potential? Are they interested in leadership or board service in an Anabaptist healthcare setting? Consider nominating them to attend the 2018 Mennonite Health Assembly, Celebrating Resilience, March 8-10 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Assembly will provide inspiring learning labs on relevant topics, as well as networking opportunities specifically designed for emerging leaders, and we are seeking young professionals with diverse backgrounds and cultures to attend.

Please submit nominations to mim@mhsonline.org by December 30, 2017. Those selected will be offered a reduced registration rate of $195.

Remember, we have reserved a limited number of space for emerging leaders, so please carefully consider who you would like to nominate—and don’t delay!

 

Search Committee Update

Valerie Rempel, MHS Search Committee chair, was pleased to report this week that the committee has met and is prepared to recommend a candidate to the full board for approval. As an agency of Mennonite Church USA, final approval of the candidate is required from the Executive Board, but if all goes well the committee hopes to announce a new President/CEO for MHS by the end of the year.

The work of the search committee has come after current President/CEO, Rick Stiffney, announced that he would retire in the spring of 2018 after 20 years of dedicated leadership at MHS.

 

MHS Valued Leadership Webinar

Daily Practices for Leading Organizational Change: A Webinar.

Meetings, emails, deadlines, and more—you have a lot on your plate. How can you find time to develop your leadership skills on top of everything else clamoring for your time and attention?

We have a solution: A bite-sized webinar that fits into even the busiest of schedules led by Emerson Lesher, MHS Senior Vice President, and Rachel Swartzendruber Miller, Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid at Hesston College. 

In only 35 minutes you’ll gain tips on how to:

  • Invite positive change
  • Create space to dream about your organization’s potential  
  • Get beyond “either/or” to “what else?!”
  • Assess how Anabaptist values influence our approach to change
  • Plus, an open Q&A with Emerson and Rachel

Strong leadership is crucial for healthy organizations; don’t neglect its development.

Visit bit.ly/MHSLeadingChange to reserve your spot for Leading Organizational Change, Thursday, November 16 at 1 p.m. EST/12 p.m. CST/11 a.m. MST/10 a.m. PST.

 

News Release — MHS Assessment team reports from PR
October 16, 2017—After several days in Puerto Rico on behalf of MHS and in partnership with Mennonite Disaster Service, Dr. Rose Gillin, MD, and Jim Alvarez, CFO of Everence, have returned home to Indiana with an assessment of health and human services needs in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“Everything looked different – devastated – especially the trees,” reported Gillin, who grew up in Puerto Rico. “As we talked with people, we could hear their pain, even as they were working together.” Most hospitals are still running on generators that are now requiring repair after four weeks of continuous use. Access to water is still limited, and there is concern about the safety of the water that is available. Many homes, churches, and schools have been damaged or destroyed. Driving is dangerous because of downed traffic signals and telephone poles.

Pharmacies are not able to fill prescriptions because they cannot access insurance companies for approval, which is of special concern for the sick and elderly. Diabetic patients are not able to refrigerate their insulin, and those on dialysis are facing an overwhelming treatment challenge.

Those who are not physically ailing are still subject to damaging amounts of mental and emotional stress, causing many to lose sleep and fear for their safety. The inability to communicate and the lingering possibility of yet another hurricane have produced anxiety in great measure. Wide-spread trauma has revealed a need for specialists and counselors in this area.

Sistema de Salud Menonita, the Mennonite hospital system in Puerto Rico, has reported that more than 100 of their employees need to rebuild or replace their homes. They have donated $500,000 to support this effort with the goal of raising an additional $500,000.

In response to these findings, MHS is encouraging constituents to donate dollars and/or volunteer hours to Mennonite Disaster Service, which is working directly with Juan Carlos Colón, moderator of the local Mennonite Conference in Puerto Rico. Any healthcare professionals who are interested in volunteering should be in touch with Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship by calling Deloris Rhodes at 1-888-406-3643 or emailing Deloris@mennohealth.org.

Monies can also be donated to send Carolyn Holderread Heggen, PhD, and other trauma specialists to the island, as well as to the Sistema de Salud Menonita fund for their employees.

Tax-deductible contributions for the Sistema de Salud Menonita employee fund or to cover expenses for the assessment team and trauma specialists can be mailed to MHS at 1112 North Main St., Goshen, Indiana 46528.

And in the face of disaster, fear, and the unknown, all are invited to pray for pastors, institutional and hospital leaders, teachers, the sick and elderly, and those who are in need of healing of all kinds on the island of Puerto Rico.

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News Release – MHS Sends Initial Assessment Team to PR
October 9, 2017—Mennonite Health Services dispatched an initial visit and assessment team that arrived in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, October 4, to explore how MHS might offer medical and health and human service support in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Team leader Dr. Rose Gillin, MD, will utilize her skills as a medical physician in tandem with her experience of growing up in Puerto Rico as she works with teammate Jim Alvarez, CFO and Senior Vice President of Everence, who also grew up on the island and is a board member of Sistema de Salud Menonita. Carolyn Holderread Heggen, PhD and trauma specialist, will travel to the island at a later time to contribute to the assessment. “These are professionally competent and well-connected individuals,” says MHS CEO Rick Stiffney.

This exploratory visit is being conducted with appreciation and strong support from Mennonite Disaster Service and in full partnership with the sophisticated Sistema De Salud Menonita in Puerto Rico. “This is one of the most highly respected health systems on the island,” says Stiffney of the four Mennonite hospitals spread across the territory. “We want to offer support if there are ways that volunteer professionals can be helpful.” Together with MDS, the MHS team is also interfacing with Mennonite Church leaders in Puerto Rico.

In addition, MHS is working closely with Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship to engage their network of doctors and nurses across the US. A database of healthcare professionals, their skills, language competencies, and availability is currently being built for use in the event that MHS is called to mobilize volunteers. A mechanism to raise funds for volunteer travel is also being established in partnership with Everence.

In the late 1940’s and 50’s many Mennonite volunteers engaged in service alongside the people of Puerto Rico to start churches and build schools, clinics, and hospitals. “Although the Mennonite population in Puerto Pico is small, their witness is large,” says Stiffney. “Through God’s grace and their commitment and competence, incredible ministry has been done. It’s an honor to be part of that work today.”

Cell phone service in Puerto Rico is weak and inconsistent and internet access is unavailable, but the MHS assessment team will provide a more detailed report upon their return.

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