Saturday, May 24, 2003

Obituary: Mary Julia Hanser, 61,

Past Mercy Health Partners CEO

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ms. Hanser

Mary Julia "Julie" Hanser, past president and CEO of Mercy Health Partners of Southwest Ohio, died Thursday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the home of her brother, James Hanser, in Delphos, Ohio. The West Chester resident was 61.

She began at Mercy in 1993 and is credited with building Mercy Health Partners into a regional health-care system by integrating four Mercy hospitals and other health-care delivery sites. She doubled revenues to about $800 million a year.

She realized a dream in 1998 when Mercy opened Holistic Health and Wellness centers in Fairfield and Anderson Township. The centers combine fitness, rehabilitation and complementary medicine under one roof.

In 1999, under her leadership, two Franciscan hospitals and three senior retirement communities joined the Mercy system.

Ms. Hanser was born in 1941 to Forrest and Cecilia Hanser in East St. Louis, Ill., and attended St. Theresa Academy in East St. Louis. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Marillac College in St. Louis in 1969 and a master's degree in health-care administration from Indiana University in the mid-1980s.

She began her career as a nurse, specializing in critical and coronary care at Hotel Dieu in New Orleans, 1968-70,and St. Mary's Hospital in Evansville, Ind., 1971-74. Her career included developing multiple coronary and intensive care units and educating nursing staffs on the care of critically ill patients.

She served as president and CEO of Providence Hospital of Mobile, Ala., in the 1980s.

Ms. Hanser was a member of the Daughters of Charity order, having entered in 1959.

She left the order in 1989 and did some consulting work before moving to Wisconsin to serve as president and CEO of St. Mary's Hospitals of Milwaukee/Ozaukee and later, Seton Health Corp. of Wisconsin.

In 1989, she became CEO of the Milwaukee County Medical Complex, but, according to her brother, Father Forest Patrick of Dallas, wanted to get out of the secular field. That's when she accepted the position at Mercy in 1993.

"She was a wonderful person but she was also my best friend, a role model , and was dedicated to the service of the poor," he said. "She was quite concerned for individuals who were poor and without health insurance and women, battered women."

He said she worked with Healing Connections Associates in Cincinnati, and started the M. Julia Hanser Fund.

Her community involvement included serving as the United Way Campaign Leader for Group IV and on the cabinet of the Fine Arts Fund, both in 1998; president of the Great Rivers Girl Scout Council in 1997; on the board of trustees at the Work Resource Center; and was a member of the greater Cincinnati Health Council Board.

In 1998, she was honored with a YMCA Character Award for demonstrating positive character values. In 1999, she was honored by Leading Women, a consortium of more than 40 Cincinnati women's organizations, for her contributions in her field.

She retired in 2001 and was diagnosed with ALS in the fall of 2002.

In addition to her brothers, survivors include two nieces, Julie Brent Morris of Asheville, N.C., and Kate Hanser of Hyde Park; and one nephew, James Hanser of Delphos, Ohio.

Visitation will be 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Kolkmeyer-Helmcamp-Orians Funeral Home, 221 North Franklin, Delphos, Ohio. Mass of Christian burial will be 11 a.m. Monday at St. John Church, 331 East 2nd Street, Delphos.

Memorials: M. Julia Hanser Fund for Women at Healing Connections, 1601 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45206.


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