1 year ago

Ascension Leader Neeysa Biddle Announces Retirement from St. Vincent’s Health System; Jason Alexander Named New Market Leader

By St. Vincent’s Health System

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (January 25, 2017) – Longtime healthcare executive Neeysa Biddle has announced her retirement as Senior Vice President, Ascension Healthcare, and Birmingham Ministry Market Executive, serving as President and CEO of St. Vincent’s Health System (STVHS), effective June 30. She plans to continue working with Ascension’s newly created Consulting Network, LLC, through which she will continue to share her experience and insights in support of Catholic healthcare. Jason Alexander, formerly with Ascension’s Providence Health System in Mobile, Alabama, and most recently with Tenet Healthcare Corp., will be rejoining Ascension to serve as Birmingham Ministry Market Executive and President and CEO of STVHS.

Biddle began leading STVHS on an interim basis in September 2014, then assumed the role fully in February 2015. She already was intimately familiar with St. Vincent’s, having served there as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from 2005-2011. When she retired from that position, she agreed to continue to serve Ascension as national Director of the Ascension Leadership Academy.

“Leaders and associates across Ascension have been blessed by their relationship with Neeysa, and we are grateful to her for sharing her gifts and talents with our national health ministry,” said Patricia Maryland, Dr.PH, President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, Ascension Healthcare, a division of Ascension.

Biddle’s commitment, dedication and vision have benefited STVHS,; its associates, physicians, and volunteers,; and the individuals and communities they work together to serve, Dr. Maryland said. She was named one of the Birmingham Business Journal’s Most Influential Executives in 2015 and 2016. Among her numerous community and professional leadership roles and recognitions, she has served on the Alabama Hospital Association’s Board of Directors and as an adjunct faculty member at UAB’s School of Health Professions, where she was selected as the 2001 Alumnus of the Year. She has been named one of the Top 40 Graduates of the UAB Health Administration program and North Alabama Girl Scouts’ 2012 Woman of the Year.

Jason Alexander Returns to Ascension

Jason Alexander, FACHE, the incoming Senior Vice President, Ascension Healthcare, and Birmingham Ministry Market Executive, has served as CEO of East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, part of Tenet Healthcare Corp., since 2011. While at East Cooper the hospital received Tenet’s Circle of Excellence recognition, awarded to Tenet’s highest-performing hospitals, in 2013, 2014 and 2016. The hospital more than doubled its operating performance and improved two letter grades in its Leapfrog Safety Score, while improving associate engagement and physician net promoter scores.

“The selection of Jason to lead our ministry reflects the commitment of Ascension and the physicians and community leaders on our board to appointing a leader with a strong track record of accomplishments and a passion for our Mission,” Biddle said. “He has never failed to impress me with his desire to make a difference, his leadership and achievements.”

“I am excited to have the opportunity to return to Ascension and look forward to joining the St. Vincent’s team,” Alexander said. “Ascension’s culture of servant leadership and Mission of improving health by providing spiritually centered, holistic care is what originally attracted me and ultimately led me to St. Vincent’s. It is truly an honor to follow in the footsteps of Neeysa Biddle, who I have known for over 20 years and have had the privilege of working for.”

Alexander has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare and an extensive background in operations and development. He previously served for five years as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Providence Health System in Mobile, Alabama, part of the Ascension Gulf Coast Ministry Market, and earlier as Vice President at Singing River Health System on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His healthcare career began at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham, where he served as Director of Business Development and Director of Physician Practice Operations.

Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of South Alabama in Mobile and master’s degrees in Health Administration and Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition, last year he completed a post-graduate program on Strategy for Healthcare Delivery through the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program, and in 2009 earned a graduate certificate in Catholic Healthcare Ministry Leadership from Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has served on several boards including the local chapter of the American Heart Association and the Graduate Programs in Health Administration at both the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Medical University of South Carolina.

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37 mins ago

Does Facebook hate Catholics?

Sen. Ted Cruz informed Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg that his company “has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages,” noting they were prevented from posting on Facebook because “their content and brand were, quote, ‘unsafe to the community.'” None of the pages came even close to constituting hate speech.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers grilled Zuckerberg about an ad that was initially blocked by Facebook because it featured Jesus on the Cross. The ad was submitted by Franciscan University of Steubenville as a theology degree advertisement. Facebook deemed it to be “excessively violent” and “sensational.” Crucifixions usually are.

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The company later apologized. The congresswoman from Washington wasn’t convinced. “Could you tell [us] what was so shocking, sensational or excessively violent about the ad to cause it to be initially censored?” “It sounds like we made a mistake there,” Zuckerberg replied.

Not mentioned in the hearings was an incident that took place between last Thanksgiving and Christmas. A Catholic vocational organization, Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations, had its ads unduly held up for a bogus reason. Facebook told the organization that its content potentially violated Facebook’s policy on discrimination for housing ads. But the ad had absolutely nothing to do with housing. By the time the ad was permitted, it was too late to matter, the effect of which was to kill the fundraising effort.

A thorough search of the two-day testimony reveals that there were no examples of Jewish or Muslim groups having their ads blocked. Moreover, no examples of anti-Semitism were mentioned. There were two references to anti-Muslim posts.

An Internet search of Facebook complaints made by Jews and Muslims turned up a few instances of alleged bias against both groups. But instances where Jewish and Muslim pages were blocked, save for clear examples of hate speech, are virtually non-existent.

What gives? Why the singling out of Catholics for censorship?

When Sen. Cruz pressed Zuckerberg about blocking some two dozen Catholic pages, the Facebook co-founder replied that he tries to make sure “we do not have any bias,” but conceded that his company is “located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place.”

In other words, Zuckerberg’s attempt to screen out anti-Catholicism is being thwarted by his own employees because they harbor extremist left-wing views. This is quite a concession. It raises two questions: Why has he failed to check the bigotry, and why do left-wingers hate Catholicism?

One reason why Zuckerberg has failed in squashing anti-Catholic bigotry is the difficulty of policing his staff. He admits that he has upwards of 20,000 people working on content review. Cruz asked, “Do you know the political orientation of those 15,000 to 20,000 people engaging in content review?” “No senator,” he replied.

Actually, he does: Zuckerberg admitted that his company is located in an “extremely left-leaning” community, and no one suspects he is importing his staff from Kansas.

Furthermore, Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. Jeff Duncan, and Rep. McMorris Rodgers all noted the anti-conservative bias at Facebook. The latter cited what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last November: he maintained that “edge providers routinely block or discriminate against content they don’t like.” No doubt the censors consider themselves to be beacons of tolerance.

Now it is understandable why left-wingers might harbor an animus against conservatives—they are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. But why do they hate Catholics?

In fact, Facebook does not hate Catholics—it’s just orthodox Catholics it loathes. To wit: there is no evidence that any of the Catholic pages blocked by Facebook are associated with dissident or liberal Catholic causes.

None of this is surprising. It all boils down to sex. The “extremely left-leaning” Facebook employees, just like “extremely left-leaning” persons everywhere, are in a rage over the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality. It is not Church teachings on the Trinity that exercises them—it’s the conviction that marriage is properly understood as a union between a man and a woman.

Zuckerberg told Rep. McMorris Rodgers, “I wouldn’t extrapolate from a few examples to assuming that the overall system is biased.” But we are not talking about a few anecdotes or hard choices: a pattern of bigotry is evident, and the pages being censored are not Catholic assaults on others.

Rep. Kevin John Cramer from North Dakota suggested to Zuckerberg that he should look to hire more people from places like Bismarck where people tend to have “common sense.”

It’s more common decency and fairness that is the problem. The fact is that those who are the captains of censorship in America work in places like the tech companies, higher education, the media, publishing, the arts, and Hollywood. What do they have in common? They are all examples of “extremely left-leaning” places that hate Catholic sexual ethics.

Zuckerberg has his work cut out for him. He can begin by hiring practicing orthodox Catholics in senior positions monitoring content review. He should also be ready to pay for relocation fees.

Bill Donohue is president of the Catholic League.

2 hours ago

‘America deserves better’: Author Brad Thor to challenge Trump in GOP primary

Best-selling author Brad Thor will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary, Thor confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Saturday.The conservative author’s biggest problem with the Trump presidency is the man himself. “He’s mentally unfit,” Thor told TheDCNF.

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Thor teased out his announcement on Twitter Saturday evening, pledging to run if no other conservative will challenge Trump. “America deserves better leadership,” Thor said. He added a few minutes later: “In fact, let’s make it official. I’m in.”

“The pages of history do not care if you were a farmer, a soldier, a doctor, or a butcher,” Thor told TheDCNF. “They care whether or not, when called, if you rose up to serve. Our Republic cries out for leadership, someone who will respect our Constitutional norms and represent the world’s greatest minority – the individual. That is who I am running for.”

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

2 hours ago

The fall of James Comey

I originally assumed that former FBI Director James Comey is an honorable and truthful man who was striving to be objective and avoid undue political influence. He has earned my change of mind.

Our law enforcement and judicial institutions should operate, to the extent possible, above politics to ensure equal justice under the law.

The term “justice is blind” is more than a cliche. Justice, by definition, must be administered impartially, without regard to wealth, power, gender, race, religion or any other special status. The law must guide the judicial system, from start to finish — from the decision to indict to the verdict of guilt or acquittal.

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Comey presents himself as a consummate professional, a moral paragon, dedicated to the law and consciously above rank political concerns. He has systematically undermined this carefully crafted image with his unseemly forays into the public arena, his professional decisions, his public statements, his book and his interviews.

FBI officials and agents I’ve met have always been highly professional, discreet and circumspect — so close to the vest that they won’t even share with friends information pertaining to ongoing investigations. They want to make clear that they operate with no favoritism and that their allegiance is to justice and the law.

I assumed Comey would be no different. He initially projected a patina of professionalism, as we witnessed during parts of his news conference in which he announced he wouldn’t prosecute Hillary Clinton and during his congressional testimony. He came off as consciously committed to operating above the political fray and following the law.

As his news conference unfolded, it became obvious that he was trying to be all things to all people, but instead of pleasing everyone, he alienated most. He meticulously documented the litany of damning facts against Clinton as if he were presenting a closing argument to a jury. But then he essentially told us that none of that mattered because she hadn’t intended to break the law. My BS antenna started sending me strong signals, which were later confirmed when consulting the relevant statutes. He couldn’t have laid out a better case for gross negligence and even willful criminal behavior, yet he chose to characterize her actions as noncriminal. If this weren’t bad enough, we later learned that he drafted a statement clearing Clinton of charges two months before the FBI interviewed her in its probe. His twisting the law into a pretzel to avoid prosecuting Clinton screams that political considerations were paramount and superseded any legal analysis.

Moreover, Comey admitted in his interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he factored the likelihood of Clinton’s winning the election into his decision to publicly announce reopening her email investigation, fearing that she would immediately become an illegitimate president. He might as well have just worn a sign into his interview reading “political animal.”

Comey’s decision to write a tell-all book about an ongoing investigation on which he was the senior investigator and for which he could be a witness was abominable. It has gravely diminished him and the FBI, and it has contradicted his claim that he is concerned with protecting the image and integrity of the bureau. I doubt that Comey would have ever been appointed to such a position in the FBI had people known he was the type to air dirty laundry and share inside information on matters that demand discretion. Indeed, many current and former colleagues are recoiling with disdain.

Some of Comey’s statements in the book and interviews were particularly inappropriate. His duty of professionalism didn’t end when he left office. His comments on Donald Trump’s appearance were especially petty, more fitting for a teenage Twitter thread than from a former high-ranking law enforcement official.

Even worse was his reckless opinion to Stephanopoulos that it’s “possible” that Trump obstructed justice, even though he admitted there is no evidence. Then there were his gratuitous statements that the Russians may have something on Trump and that it’s possible the alleged incident involving prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room happened. How could anyone watch that interview and still respect Comey’s intellectual honesty?

Free speech guarantees certainly apply to this publicity hound, but they don’t insulate him from our reasoned opinion that he has no business saying Trump behaved like a mob boss or that he is morally unfit to serve.

Comey’s conduct in this affair has been disgraceful. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that he made “serious mistakes,” that he won’t admit his mistakes and that both Democrats and Republicans called for his termination. Former attorneys general, judges and lead prosecutors believe that Comey violated his duty to preserve, protect and defend the FBI. He violated Justice Department policies and tradition. And he leaked four memos, at least one of which was classified, to a friend for publication instead of turning them over to investigators.

I suspect that Comey began writing this book expecting financial profit and professional and personal vindication. I’m afraid he’ll have to settle for the big bucks alone. I would feel sorry for him if he weren’t so sanctimonious.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney.

(Creators, copyright 2018)

3 hours ago

Survey: Optimism abounds as Alabama business owners project hiring, wage increases

A tight labor market and mounting economic enthusiasm among business owners could equal more jobs and higher wages for Alabama workers in the next six months.

The findings in PNC Financial Services Group Inc.’s Spring 2018 Economic Outlook survey for Alabama suggest small business owners across Alabama are increasingly optimistic about near-term labor and wage trends despite questions regarding tariffs and tax reform. The bi-annual survey by the Pittsburgh-based company examines hiring, pricing, sales and other economic trends for the state’s small and mid-size business owners.

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PNC Chief Economist Gus Faucher said projected hiring and compensation boosts reflect increased economic confidence by Alabama business owners that could lead to the highest rate for wage increases in the six-year history of PNC’s Alabama survey. Faucher pointed to the following key takeaways from the most recent report:

— Reflecting new highs for the survey, nearly 68 percent of respondents anticipate increased sales during the next six months, compared with only 54 percent last fall, while 55 percent expect increased profits, compared with 46 percent in fall 2017;

— Thirty-nine percent of Alabama business leaders surveyed anticipate boosting employee compensation in the next six months, compared with 32 percent in the fall;

— One-quarter of respondents expect to add full-time staff, while 20 percent plan to hire part-time employees, compared with 20 percent and 13 percent respectively in the fall;

— Forty-one percent of respondents anticipate the new tax legislation will have a positive impact on their bottom lines, with 16 percent expecting no change and only 6 percent anticipating a negative impact; and

— Forty-four 44 percent of respondents expect the legislation to have a major or moderate positive effect on their business taxes.

In addition, 49 percent of respondents describe their outlook for the national economy as optimistic, compared with only 32 percent in fall 2017. Meanwhile, half are optimistic about their own companies’ prospects for the next six months, compared with only 39 percent last fall.

“The Alabama economy is doing really, really well,” Faucher said, noting it mirrors or outperforms national trends during the second-longest period of economic growth in U.S. history. The current expansion is tied at 106 months with a 1960s expansion and trails only the 120-month expansion of the 1990s.

Specifically, he said, Alabama’s statewide unemployment rate of 3.7 percent for February fell below the national rate of 4.1 percent for the same period, or less than one-third of its peak 11.8 percent reported during the Great Recession. Statewide job growth in 2017 of 1.5 percent nearly doubled the national rate of 0.8 percent for the same 12-month period.

The Alabama industries leading job growth include manufacturing, professional and business services and hospitality and leisure, while the trade, transportation/utilities and information sectors are soft.

Alabama wages, Faucher said, are “solid right now” because employers are finding it difficult to recruit the skill sets needed to fill open positions, so existing employees’ wages will continue to increase until that gap is bridged.

“So far this year, wages in Alabama are up about 3.5 percent from one year ago, which is a little better than the national average. This reflects the tighter job market, businesses competing for workers and the lower unemployment rate. All of this is good for Alabama incomes and consumer spending,” he said.

With federal spending increasing, Faucher said Alabama’s defense contractors and facilities stand to continue benefiting from the uptick well into 2019. Auburn University at Montgomery economist Keivan Deravi contends the current optimism among Alabama business owners is “totally justified and explainable,” but he cautioned against projecting too far into the future because of recent volatility across the national economic landscape.

“One month ago, the stock market was surging, and then came the tax changes that were very lopsided toward corporations,” he said, noting many operations saw their tax burden slip from 33 percent to 22 percent and chose to sink those savings into capital investments, stock buy-backs and even employee bonuses.

Moreover, with both national and state unemployment rates so low, projected wage increases of 3-4 percent “could easily be handled” and the removal or relaxing of federal banking and environmental regulations are encouraging to bottom lines, he said.

“You look at this big picture, and you see the economy is doing fine. Consumers are spending, and the optimism is there. All of the sudden, rather than standing still, something is pushing us forward,” Deravi said.

Within the past month, however, the Federal Reserve has indicated rate hikes are imminent, the stock market has become “erratic” and talk of an international trade war is “generating a little uncertainty in the business community.”

“The optimism, especially in Alabama, is warranted, but nothing is guaranteed,” Deravi said. “Successful businesses like two things: money and certainty. If the certainty is removed – even if they have money – they’re going to pause and say, ‘Wait a minute. What’s going on?’ And the past month is proof that uncertainty can creep in from several different directions very quickly.”

(Courtesy Alabama News Center)

6 hours ago

California lawmakers to restrict gay conversion therapy, but critics warn violation of religious freedom

California legislators have introduced a bill to outlaw selling and advertising gay conversion therapy, but critics warn it violates free speech and religious liberty.

The California state assembly passed the bill on Thursday, which would make it illegal to advertise or sell services claiming to change an individual’s sexual orientation from same-sex attraction to heterosexuality, according to The Associated Press. Assemblyman Evan Low, who leads the California LGBT caucus and is gay, authored the bill and claims it does not limit First Amendment rights; but others in the legislature assert it prohibits the free exercise of religion.

“This is a very personal issue to me,” Low said, according to AP. “This notion that we would accept as a legal practice that conversion therapy works is antithetical to my very existence in this body.”

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However, the law would likely be overturned in court because it appears to limit free speech and the practices of churches believing homosexuality is not natural, Republican lawmakers said.

“This is a bill that would be overturned by a higher court on the grounds of the First Amendment,” Assemblyman Matthew Harper said, according to AP. The bill specifically violates religious freedom, Harper asserted.

The bill only applies to transactions and business practices and therefore would not affect churches, Low argued. The bill would not outlaw selling books on the subject of conversion therapy and would not prevent individuals from talking about it. It would, however, prevent medical professionals and counselors from offering or performing conversion therapy to their patients, even if their patients request it. Paid conversion therapy would be considered consumer fraud.

“You can still try to pray the gay away if you’d like, but it hasn’t proved to be effective,” Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman said, according to AP. “To advertise that you can change someone’s orientation is simply that — fraudulent.”

California church leaders and conservative groups like the California Family Council have openly opposed the bill and said conversion therapy has actually helped many people who willingly sought it.

“For many people, it has worked; it has made them happy; they say it has saved their lives. So why is the state banning something that people are saying is saving their lives?” CA Family Council’s Greg Burt said, according to CBS Sacramento.

Church leaders rallied on the steps of California’s capitol building to pray in opposition to the bill. The bill is just one example of liberal policy actually damaging the lives of Californians, Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries Pastor Franklin Raddish, who attended the prayer rally, said.

“Actually this liberal leftist legislature and even the governor’s office that are pushing this kind of legislation are the ones [who] are destroying California,” Raddish said, according to CBS Sacramento.

The California Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics expressed support for the bill, though in the case of pediatrics, California already outlaws conversion therapy for minors.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)