Latest News

Here you will find the latest news at Providence – if the news item is over one month old,
please visit the "News Archive" page.

Celebrating 30 Years of Love and Humancare
March 16th, 2017

Robert and Patricia Wilcox have a lot of things in common. As they celebrate 30 years of marriage this year, their union exemplifies teamwork. Both are Providence family doctors who have been caring for Waco families since the early 90s. Their bonds to the community in which they work, love and pray continue to strengthen with every passing year.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Partners in practice as well as in life, the Wilcoxes maintain an unflagging commitment to their vocation, their family and their faith. They have three children and their family is active in their church, where both Robert and Patricia teach Sunday school. With so many responsibilities, you may wonder how they find the time to connect and nurture their relationship.

“Being in the same profession gives us a unique understanding of our day-to-day,” Patricia says. “When we collaborate about work, we understand the certain stresses, joys, triumphs and challenges that come with it.”

Being Called to Heal

Robert Wilcox understands that being a physician isn’t an occupation so much as a calling. He regards the work he does as an opportunity to care for each patient as a whole person, respecting their innate humanity. That’s the essence of Humancare.

“There is something very sacred and special about being in a room with a patient -- caring for them, ministering to their medical, physical, mental and spiritual needs,” Wilcox explains.

At Providence, we recognize that partnerships like the ones the Wilcoxes enjoy benefit all of us. The strength and inspiration they derive from their marriage shines outward through the invaluable work they do to care for all who come through their doors.

Humancare Offers Sustenance for Body and Soul
January 30th, 2017

Food is essential to life, and we often eat what’s in front of us with little thought of where it came from. It can be easy to overlook the dedication of those who prepare our food and provide such a vital source of nourishment, especially at a busy place like Providence, where so much happens every day.

As a leader within the nutritional services team, Kimberly Ridge faces an array of challenges as she works to coordinate hearty, healthy meals each day. From staffing shortages to unhappy patients to the many demands on her team, Kim rises to each occasion with unwavering consistency and heart.

Breaking Bread, Building Community

Kim’s contribution to Providence goes far beyond her leadership position. Whether she’s listening to personal stories in the dining room or visiting a patient’s bedside to ensure they’re enjoying their food, Kim endeavors to make each person feel seen, heard and valued. She creates a space in our retail area and inpatient services where our associates are encouraged to think of every patient and customer as a family member.

At Providence, compassionate care is central to our mission. Kim works to foster a sense of community and teamwork within our associates through her kind nature and firm but fair enforcement of our policies. Surpassing expectations with her steady focus, humble service and ceaseless integrity, Kim is a shining example of Humancare in action. Like countless associates, Kim may not be the face of Providence, but she’s certainly the heart of it.

Avoiding Trauma by Toys: Tips for holiday toy-buying
December 19th, 2016

Every parent looks forward to seeing their child's face light up at the sight of a new toy during the holidays. But as we begin to shop for our little ones, emergency room physicians say safety should be at the top of our shopping list.

To help parents make smart choices, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report offering guidance about toys with potentially hazardous features.

In 2015, more than 250,000 children were treated in emergency departments across the U.S. for toy-related injuries. Boys encountered more than half of those injuries.

Greg Newman, DO, is the medical director of Providence Express Care. Providence is a part of Ascension, the nation's largest nonprofit health system and the world's largest Catholic health system.

He says toy-related injuries happen time and time again, especially around the holidays.

"It's exciting to see children tear into packages Christmas morning," Newman said. "Shopping for age appropriate toys and making sure children are well supervised during play time can help prevent accidents."

When accidents do happen, whether your child swallowed a battery or suffered a hard fall, it's important to seek medical care immediately.

According to the report:

  • Non-motorized scooters were listed as the most dangerous toy, blamed for about 45 percent of toy-related deaths.
  • Bumps, bruises and cuts were the most common injuries.
  • Heads and faces were the body parts most affected by these injuries.

Newman points out parents should not only pay attention when they're shopping, but they should also take a close look at toys their children receive as gifts from friends and relatives.

"Friends and relatives may not be aware of potential safety hazards lurking in the gifts they give," Newman said. "If you question a toy's safety, store it until your child is older. In some cases, it may be necessary to toss it."

Other toy features to watch out for:

  • Balloons and balloon strings (choking, strangulation)
  • Stuffed toys, dolls, doll accessories, toy figurines (suffocating)
  • Water guns (drowning)
  • Tricycles (accidents involving motor vehicles)

Shopping? Consider these tips:

  • Study the label: It's important to know how to properly use the toy. Read warning labels and instruction manuals to learn about proper play, and then give your child pointers on safe use.
  • Shop for age-appropriate toys: Check the packaging for age limitations.
  • Go big: To prevent choking, make sure the toys are too large to fit inside your child's mouth.
  • Buy safety gear: For bikes, skateboards and similar toys, make sure your child is properly fitted with a helmet and pads.
  • Check the sound levels: Avoid any toys that are too loud to prevent hearing damage.
  • Beware of battery operated toys: Make sure your little one can't remove the battery. "Button-style" batteries can cause potentially fatal internal burning when swallowed.
  • Look for non-toxic toys: Make sure toys don't contain toxic materials that could be poisonous.
  • No matter what, supervise your child: Any toy can be dangerous without parental supervision.

Spread holiday cheer, not germs: Tips for travel during cold, flu season
December 16th, 2016

Millions of Americans will board planes, trains and automobiles to visit family and friends this holiday season. And the number of germs that will accompany each passenger? Too many to count.

According for the Centers for Disease Control, December is a peak flu month. Mix that with increased holiday travel, and you've got a recipe for sore throat, headache, fever, muscle aches, congestion and cough that no one wants to share.

Sharing is not always caring

Adults typically get two to three colds per year and children can get up to eight or more. While germs can lurk most everywhere you go, Clint McHenry, DO, says cold and flu viruses are more easily shared in close quarters. McHenry is a primary care physician at Providence Family Health Clinic-Lakeshore. Providence is a part of Ascension, the nation's largest nonprofit health system and the world's largest Catholic health system.

"Tight spaces foster the spread of illness," McHenry said. "Sharing smaller spaces means you are in closer proximity to people who haven't recently washed their hands. You're a likely landing spot for droplets spread through coughing or sneezing."

Before boarding a plane, train or bus, consider delaying your travel plans if you are sick. When you can't change travel plans, consider a surgical mask. Though not a popular fashion choice, wearing a mask can prevent you from sharing germs each time you cough or sneeze.

Are frequent flyers sick more often?

If you think flying and getting sick often go hand in hand, you may not be wrong. But not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Experts theorize air travel increases infection risks because of recirculated air or less humidity. McHenry points out that air quality on planes has not been proven as a leading cause of the spread of a cold virus.

"The cold virus is most often spread by hand-to-hand contact," McHenry said. "Germs can travel through handshakes or touching a contaminated surface, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth," McHenry said.

The cold virus can survive on hard surfaces for several hours and on our hands for about two hours. McHenry emphasizes that consistently washing your hands when you are sick and even when you are not is a proven way to protect you, and those around you, from infection.

Call on your inner germ-fighter

While you may not be able to control when and where you are exposed to germs, you can support your immune system to help give yourself a fighting chance against holiday sickness.

"We see that our bodies are more susceptible to illness when we don't get enough sleep, have extra stress or are malnourished," McHenry said. "Therefore, it is important to focus on these things to strengthen our immune system so our bodies can help fight infection when we need it to."

Vitamin C is a popular go-to immune system booster during cold and flu season. But McHenry points out while not necessarily harmful, studies have not consistently shown that taking vitamin C to boost your immune system helps prevent illness or helps it pass more quickly.

Best recipe for cold and flu-free travel

No matter how you travel, McHenry suggests these tips for getting home for the holidays cold and flu free:

  • Wash your hands, often. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Hum, sing or whistle the tune of "Happy Birthday," then rinse and dry.
  • Pack hand sanitizer. If you don't have access to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is second best.
  • Take care of yourself-mind, body and spirit. Eat well-balanced meals including fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Stay hydrated. Exercise regularly and reduce stress through yoga or meditation.
  • Vaccinate. The flu vaccine is a proven way to prevent the flu virus. It takes time for the vaccine to get to work, so those who are not allergic to the vaccine, and especially children, the chronically ill and the elderly, should get vaccinated in October or November. Is it too late? The flu season extends into the spring, so now versus never can still boost your chances of making it through the flu season symptom-free.

Recipes don't always turn out as expected. If you find yourself with cold and flu-like symptoms that don't improve within a week or two, call your doctor to rule out other causes of illness.

Cholesterol: All in the Family?
October 27th, 2016

Routine immunization visits can help prevent diseases before they strike. Now, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that an additional heel stick during these appointments can look for genetic markers for high cholesterol—a step that might help reduce or even prevent the risk of future heart disease in both children and parents.

The study looked at 10,059 one and two year olds who had an additional blood test during one of their regularly-scheduled immunization visits to look for genetic markers that would cause high cholesterol down the road. When a marker was found, a second test identified the parent with the same marker. For every 1,000 screenings, four children and their corresponding parent were identified with the same marker.

Not Just “Adults-Only”

High cholesterol isn’t reserved for adults. According to Shawn Skeen, MD, it can be passed down to a child by one or both parents, and can also be seen in childhood and adolescence, along with obesity, poor diet or diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.  Skeen is a cardiologist at Providence. Providence is part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. 

“Our bodies use cholesterol for daily functions such as cell production,” Skeen explained. “Too much of the waxy substance can cause plaque buildup and narrowed arteries. This can limit blood flow through the arteries, and can lead to heart disease, and even heart attack or stroke.”

The Importance of Early Detection

Early detection can improve treatment options for many health conditions. Providence pediatrician Ronald Coleman, Jr., DO, said that current guidelines established by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics call for a blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol and triglycerides to screen children as part of regular check-ups, once between the ages of nine and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21.

Children who have strong family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, are overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, are diabetic or smoke, should be evaluated by a doctor and screened as needed, between the ages of 2 and 21.

Skeen points out that the potential to screen children for a shared genetic marker as early as one or two years old, allows both doctors and parents to be aware of the potential health risks associated with high cholesterol, and provides doctors with better opportunities for intervention or prevention.  Additionally, identifying the parent with the shared marker gives mom or dad a heads up regarding their own health as well.

“Heart disease is the number one killer in America, with high cholesterol being a known risk factor. If high cholesterol can be identified early, we can take action to manage, and often times, prevent future complications associated with heart disease,” Skeen said.

Coleman notes that that the presence of the genetic marker doesn’t necessarily mean a future with high cholesterol, nor does its absence guarantee cholesterol won’t be a concern down the road.

However, in some cases where the genetic maker is present, complications related to high cholesterol can begin at an early age. 

While the study shows the potential for early high cholesterol detection, the cost benefit of the approach is uncertain when compared to the current recommended guidelines. 

Genes Are Not the Only Player

Regardless of a child’s genetic risk for high cholesterol, Coleman and Skeen agree that lifestyle and diet still matter. “Parents should play an active role in modeling healthy behaviors and managing their child’s food intake,” Coleman said.

In many cases, high cholesterol can be lowered without needing medication.  Try some of these family-friendly tips:

  • Take the family outdoors for walking, hiking, biking or swimming.
  • Use a gym or club membership to enjoy aerobic or spin classes together.
  • Ask your children to be involved in meal planning and preparation.
  • Plan colorful or themed meals that include baked or grilled foods, whole grains, fruits and veggies.

Parents who are concerned about their child’s risk of high cholesterol should talk to their doctor about family history and other potential risk factors to decide the best screening and treatment options.

Ascension Medical Mission at Home in Waco a Success
October 26th, 2016

It only takes a moment to make a difference in someone’s life, and our mission of Humancare is made up of many such moments. Extending compassionate care to the most vulnerable is a fundamental value at Providence, and that’s just what happened at the first ever Ascension Medical Mission at Home, brought to you by Providence Healthcare Network.

On Oct. 1, the Waco Convention Center became a medical arena. Over 600 of Ascension’s Texas associates spent their Saturday delivering medical, dental and eye care to nearly 1,000 people. This day of service enriched the lives of those who volunteered as much as it helped those on the receiving end.

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Waco is home to a sizable population of underserved residents, many of whom struggle to access healthcare and who live at or below the poverty line.

Helping these families get the medical services they need is a big reason we take our medical mission beyond the four walls of the hospital.

A severely infected tooth brought Waco resident Deitra Stroud to the event. She was between jobs and needed her tooth extracted.

“If I can get it pulled, I know I can start a new job on Wednesday,” Stroud said.

Stroud got her teeth cared for, and also got a flu shot and blood pressure medication.

Full Hearts and Minds

During the first ever Ascension Medical Mission at Home in Waco, there were many stories of lives being touched, including the father who had been saving for months to afford glasses for his son. He got them free at the event. Some women were able to have a mammogram for the first time in their lives. People were also connected to additional resources that will help them to maintain and manage their health beyond the one-day event.

Attorney Ann Benolken to lead legal efforts for Ascension’s Texas Ministry Market
October 26th, 2016


Austin attorney Ann Benolken is joining Ascension to lead the national health system’s legal efforts on behalf of its Texas Ministry Market, which includes Providence Healthcare Network in Waco and Seton Healthcare Family in Austin. She will serve as Vice President, Legal, and General Counsel, Texas Ministry Market and begin transitioning into this role in late November 2016. Ascension is the nation’s largest nonprofit health system and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

Benolken will report to Chris McCoy, Senior Vice President, Legal Services, and General Counsel, Ascension Healthcare, a division of Ascension. She also will be part of the senior leadership team of the Ascension Texas Ministry Market.

“Ann is a highly skilled and experienced attorney with more than 25 years of experience as a general counsel and law firm partner,” McCoy said. “Known for her attention to serving the needs of clients and ability to build positive, cooperative relationships, Ann is a strategic thought partner and leader who draws on her significant experience in industries including health care and life sciences. We’re pleased to welcome her to Ascension and our Texas Ministry Market.”

“As a longtime Austin attorney, Ann is very familiar with our health ministry, and we’re very happy that she will be supporting our delivery of compassionate, personalized care to all with special attention to those living in poverty and those most vulnerable,” said Jesús Garza, president and CEO, Seton Healthcare Family, who also serves as senior vice president, Ascension, and Texas Ministry Market Executive.

“Both Seton and Providence are known for their excellent care and their commitment to the communities they serve. I’m looking forward to contributing to their continued success in meeting the changing health needs of individuals across Central Texas,” Benolken said.

Benolken currently is a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, a leading global law firm, where she leads the firm’s mergers and acquisitions, corporate, and securities section in its Austin office. Her work has included developing legal teams to represent private and public organizations in a range of transactions including medical school partnerships and other strategic alliances, mergers, and more. Earlier in her career, she served as the General Counsel and Senior Vice President of a startup telehealth company and also as General Counsel of a telecommunications and Internet services company.

Benolken earned her law degree and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas, Austin. She is a member of the Governance Committee for SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) in Austin and on the Board of Directors of the Austin/San Antonio chapter of the General Counsel Forum, a community of more than 700 general counsel and senior managing counsel. She has served on several community boards, including Austin Children’s Shelter (now known as Austin Children’s Services) and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) of Travis County, Texas. She is a founding member of Women of Hope, a philanthropic group of women who have come together around their common interest in making the world a better place for abused and neglected children and youth served by Austin Children’s Shelter. She has been included in The Best Lawyers in America since 2012.

The Ascension Legal team operates as a unified, in-house law firm, with a single reporting structure that reduces risk and improves the overall quality, consistency and efficiency of legal services rendered across the health system’s sites of care in 24 states plus Washington, D.C.

“We’re happy to welcome Ann to our integrated national Legal team,” said Joe Impicciche, Executive Vice President, Legal Services, and General Counsel, Ascension. “She will be an important contributor as we continue to build our capabilities and strengths in support of Ascension’s Mission.”

Angry? Consider Cooling Down Before Breaking a Sweat
October 20th, 2016


Physical exertion, anger or being upset linked to increased heart attack risks

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve overall health. But according to a new study by the American Heart Association, you should think about your frame of mind before hitting the pavement or running to the gym.

The large international study included 12,461 first-time heart attack sufferers from 52 countries, average age 58. Participants were asked to recall whether they were angry or upset, or had heavily exerted themselves in the hour before their heart attack.

  • About 14 percent of the participants reported that engaging in physical exertion, or being angry or emotionally upset were triggers for their heart attack. 
  • Separately, either being angry or upset, or engaging in heavy physical exertion was associated with a doubled heart attack risk.  
  • Put the two together, and being either angry or upset as well as engaging in heavy exercise was linked to a tripled heart attack risk.    

When anger, emotions and heavy physical exertion combine

According to Shawn Skeen, MD, the effects extreme anger and exercise have on your body can be similar.  Skeen is a cardiologist at Providence. Providence is a part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

Extreme anger or exercise both increase blood pressure and heart rate. For people who may have unstable plaque build-up, this may increase the likelihood these plaques could rupture, resulting in a heart attack. “Also, when we get upset, angry, very sad or overly anxious, or do rigorous exercise, our bodies produce more stress-related hormones,” Skeen said. “In some cases, these hormones alone can result in stress-related heart dysfunction, despite the absence of obstructive coronary artery disease.”

To exercise or not exercise?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease remains the number one killer in the U.S.; about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. Skeen urges that prevention of a first heart attack is key – so, ditching the exercise is not an option.

“Physical aerobic activity, combined with a heart-heathy diet is as effective as any medicine we have at preventing a first heart attack,” Skeen said.

Skeen points out that the study may show a link between being upset or doing strenuous exercise and having a heart attack, but it doesn’t mean the heart attack is actually caused by the extreme emotion or exertion. Also, the study relied on participants’ memories of what they were doing before the heart attack, which tends to be less reliable compared to clinical data.

However, because extreme stress or emotional upset and rigorous physical exercise are known heart attack triggers, the study does suggest that cooling down emotionally before exercising can help defuse those as triggers. Skeen also encourages those who have multiple heart disease risk factors be evaluated by a health care professional before starting any physical activity.

Alternatives to strenuous physical activity

Keeping stress and emotions in-check is important for overall health and wellness.  According to Skeen, you don’t have to break a sweat to do so. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, meditation and prayer are equally effective with real cardio benefits. Other options include low-impact physical activity like walking or gardening or relaxation methods such as breathing and counting.

Talk to your doctor about what alternative techniques are right for you. And of course, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

Providence commercial features locals with a talent for Humancare.
August 31st, 2016

Kurt Kurtz and Pat Johnson don’t just play humans on TV. They are your neighbors and part of TEAMPROVIDENCE, transforming healthcare into Humancare.

Kurt joined Providence in 2002, and has served as the Director of Pharmacy for the past five years. Kurt’s passion comes from taking care of patients by ensuring they get the great care they need during their stay in the hospital and beyond. “Humancare, to me, means we take care of the whole person—not just during the acute phase. We provide care throughout a person’s life. As a pharmacist, I get to advocate for the patient, and we treat each person as if they were in our own family,” he said.


Pat, a sales clerk in the Little Blessings Boutique at Providence, started volunteering at Providence with her husband in 2007 after they both retired. For Pat, volunteering provided a reason to get dressed and out of the house each day, but what began as a four hour per week commitment evolved into a 20-hour part time job. “I just love taking care of our customers and associates. Folks are always pleasantly surprised and thankful for the help we provide. My work here gives me a reason to keep moving each day!”


Visit our website to learn about the Humancare difference, and watch videos of patients sharing their Humancare experiences.

Pet Therapy Program Brings Joy to Providence
August 10th, 2016

Pet Therapy Program Brings Joy to Providence


Comfort can come in all shapes and sizes, and patients at Providence Health Center in Waco can vouch for that. The Providence Pet Therapy Program is one of the many ways that we bring Humancare to children and adults alike. Through pet therapy, dogs visit children and adults at Providence, lifting spirits and calming nerves. By engaging with community members and pet owners, our patients can share in the simple yet profound joy of connecting with a beloved animal.

The Healing Benefits of Pet Therapy

Spending time with a furry four-legged friend isn’t only fun; there are physical, mental and emotional benefits that can come from being with a gentle dog. For kids awaiting surgery, a visit with a sweet pooch can help them pass the time and lap up some puppy love, which can be a welcome distraction. Dog owner Mandi Barnes brings Remington to the hospital for that very reason.

“The hospital can be a very scary place and being able to see a dog, which is not a common thing in the hospital, breaks up the monotony and breaks up the day,” Barnes said. “Remington’s job is mainly to make people smile and forget why they are here.”

A Shelter for All


The Providence Pet Therapy Program has 16 pet partner teams, and each therapy dog is trained especially to interact with people in hospitals. Providence requires all dogs and their owners to be registered through Pet Partners and remain up-to-date on training and certification. Many dogs come from Fuzzy Friends Rescue, a no-kill shelter that cares for all animals until they are adopted, bringing the notion of Humancare full circle. The dogs receive a loving home and brighten the lives of their owners as well as the lives of the children and adults at Providence.

Waco: New breast cancer screening guidelines leave some confused
February 11th, 2016

WACO (January 13, 2016) A new and controversial final recommendation was released this week by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on the topic of women’s health and breast cancer screening.

Click on the link to read more. 

read more »

Mind Over Medicine
February 2nd, 2016

Throughout the greater Waco area, local healthcare providers are teaming cutting-edge technologies in robotics and ultrasonic with a homegrown workforce of expertly-trained personnel to give area residents a more comprehensive level of exemplary healthcare. Click the PDF link to read more about the Providence Robotics Program.

Download PDF »

Waco Associates Express Spirit of Giving through Donations
December 28th, 2015


The spirit of giving runs deep in the hearts of Providence Healthcare Network associates in Waco, Texas. Every day, the Providence family puts our Core Values in action by making a difference in the lives of Waco community families, but the giving spirit is even higher during the Holiday Season. 


During the annual Food for Families food drive, Providence collected over 8,000 pounds of non-perishable food items.  These generous donations not only help provide food for families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but also help stock the shelves of 10 food pantries throughout McLennan County, which provide food to those in need year-round.


The spirit of giving continued with their annual toy drive benefiting Mission Waco, a local non-profit that “seek[s] ways to overcome the systemic issues of social injustice which oppress the poor and marginalized,” and offers relationship-based programs to empower those most in need.  “We are called to serve the poor and vulnerable—both in and outside our hospital walls,” Sister Cecile Matushek, vice president of mission affairs said.  ”Our Mission and Core values match so well with the mission of Mission Waco, especially our core value of Reverence.”  

From stuffed animals and dolls to basketballs and board games, Providence associates donated a truck load of new, unwrapped Christmas toys and gifts just in time for Christmas shopping to begin at the Mission Waco Toy Store on Dec. 5.  Mission Waco’s annual toy store enables low-income families to shop for that special gift with their child’s Christmas wish list in mind, at an 80 percent off retail price.

Because of generous donations,   the toy store serves over 550 families, ensuring that more than 1,700 children across the Waco community experience the magic of Christmas morning.  “Parents have the joy of being Santa and our joy is knowing that we helped make that happen,” Sister Cecile said.  

Seton Health Plan and Cigna to Develop Innovative New Products for Health Care Delivery Throughout Austin and Waco Areas
December 10th, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas – December 10, 2015 – Seton Health Plan, Inc., and Cigna (NYSE: CI) have entered into a joint venture agreement and unique collaboration to offer employers in and around Austin and Waco integrated health care products designed to improve access, affordability and the patient experience.

Seton Health Plan’s insured and self-insured offerings will be available next year to employers with 51 or more employees within a 13-county area served by Austin-based Seton Healthcare Family and Waco-based Providence Healthcare Network. The health care products will guide customers of Seton, Providence and affiliates through a more clinically integrated and cost-effective system of care designed to improve quality and patient outcomes, reduce duplication of services and eliminate unnecessary costs.

Seton Health Plan and Cigna expect to make products available to employers by the summer of 2016.

“We recognize that health care is local, so our aim is to offer integrated products that will meet the needs of individuals who live and work in our area,” said Jeff Cook, president and CEO, Seton Insurance Services, and vice president of Insurance and Value-Based Reimbursement for Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit health system and parent organization of Seton and Providence. “We’ll accomplish that with collaborative health plans that present more choices for affordable and personalized health care while maintaining our focus on clinical excellence.”

“This collaboration signals a fundamental shift in how organizations that finance and administer health plans engage with organizations that deliver health care,” said Mike Koehler, market president for Cigna South Texas. “If we expect to drive better health, affordability and experience for the customers we jointly serve, we need to put the customer at the center of all we do through deeper collaboration between payers and providers. That’s the future of health care.”

The arrangement enables Seton, Providence and Cigna to combine health plan, hospital, clinic, provider and administrative capabilities in a unified effort to improve people’s lives, deliver long-term sustained medical cost savings, and create healthier communities. Drawing on the strengths of both organizations, the arrangement leverages Cigna's national and regional resources, including a best-in-class administration platform from Cigna’s wholly-owned subsidiary, QualCare Alliance Networks, Inc., as well as the expertise of the company’s clinical and consumer health engagement teams. This enables Seton Health Plan to focus its local resources on delivering high-quality, coordinated and affordable care and an exceptional customer experience.

The insurance products will emphasize wellness and prevention and will include a health assessment to identify people at risk for chronic conditions and other health issues. The information will guide development of workplace programs to address employees’ greatest needs. Individuals with chronic conditions will have access to caregivers able to coordinate their medical care, help them follow the physician’s care plan, explain treatment options, refer patients to appropriate community resources and help them improve their skills in managing their conditions. Employers can choose plans with a wellness rewards program and health coaching to reduce stress, obesity and smoking. Physicians in the plans will be rewarded for improving quality, efficiency and patient experience.

About Cigna
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 89 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.

About Seton Health Plan, Seton Healthcare Family and Providence Healthcare Network
Seton Health Plan is part of Seton Healthcare Family and, together with Providence Healthcare Network, comprises Ascension’s Texas health system. With operations in 24 states and the District of Columbia, Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. In FY2015 Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. More information is available at www.ascension.org.

Seton Healthcare Family operates more than 100 clinical locations, including four teaching hospitals that will be training and research sites for Dell Medical School at The University of Texas starting in 2016. Seton conducts research in such areas as the prevention and treatment of stroke, traumatic injury, epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, chronic condition management and pediatric medicine. Seton also operates Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, which serves children in 46 counties. www.seton.net

Providence operates a continuum of care that includes a major health center; 17 clinic locations; two urgent care clinics; a psychiatric and substance abuse facility; and a premiere community for independent living, assisted living, long-term and sub-acute care. Comprehensive women’s services include a Women & Newborns Center, Breast Health Center and Waco Center for Women’s Health. www.providence.net.

About Ascension
Ascension (www.ascension.org) is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world's largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all with special attention to persons in poverty and struggling the most. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 150,000 associates and 35,000 aligned providers serve in 1,900 sites of care - including 129 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities - in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, treasury management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension's own group purchasing organization.