|In a career spanning more than 40 years, Sister Colman Coakley was a chief executive of the Presentation Health System until her resignation in 1996. Her influence in the region will be felt for decades to come. She focused her efforts to strengthen health care in rural communities. She also developed programs to assure that Christian, gospel-based values in caring for the sick would be perpetuated.
After completing her novitiate and after taking her permanent vows, Sister Colman was assigned to work in the business office of McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. From there she was moved to the accounts department, which led her to be appointed in 1968 as chair of the Presentation Sisters’ first Health Care Council. This was a structure formed to coordinate all their health ministries. <p>When the Presentation Health System was formed in 1978, Sister Colman became its first President. Under her leadership, the Presentation Health System grew from the Presentation Sisters’ four owned hospitals to a regional network of 19 hospitals, 15 long-term care facilities, several assisted living and independent living senior apartment complexes, 29 physician clinics, a home care organization that provides services throughout eastern South Dakota, and several other associated services. <p>In 1978, Sister Colman established the region’s first accredited Clinical Pastoral Education program to provide professional training for ministers and others who care for the spiritual needs of the sick and elderly. To emphasize the importance of spiritual care, she established formal departments of pastoral care at all Presentation Health System(PHS) hospitals and nursing homes. <p>As a national decline in the numbers of religious women became apparent in the 1970s, Sister Colman developed formal “Mission Effectiveness” programs at PHS facilities to teach lay workers the Christian philosophy of caring for the poor, the sick and the elderly. <p>In the early 1990s, Sister Colman urged the McKennan Hospital board to establish a clinic for the non-insured and poor people in the Sioux Falls area. Characteristically, she stipulated that the clinic open and operate with as little publicity as possible. It continues to this day, providing primary care services for more than 500 people a month. <p>In 1982, Sister Colman established the Presentation Health System Foundation, which allows donors to perpetuate the healing ministry of the Presentation Sisters. In addition to her work with the Presentation Health System, Sister Colman served on the McKennan Hospital Board of Trustees for 38 years, including 18 years as chairperson.
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