COLUMBIA, SC – June 2, 2008 – Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, president and CEO of Sisters of Charity Health System and former president and CEO of Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals, received the Order of the Palmetto Award at a reception held in her honor Thursday night. The Order of the Palmetto is South Carolina’s highest civilian honor awarded for extraordinary lifetime achievement and service to the state and nation.
Providence Hospitals Chief of Staff Dr. E. McIver Leppard, who nominated Karam for the award, and Senator Joel Lourie presented the Order of the Palmetto award to Karam at the reception, citing several examples of her positive impact on the community. Karam took a leading role in establishing the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina in 1996, an organization that has invested more than $34 million in financial resources to impact poverty and assist low-income families. Karam also spearheaded expansion of the Healthy Learners program, which provides medical, vision and dental services to low-income children in the state. In addition, Karam helped create the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families in 2002, an organization that aids thousands of low-income fathers by providing job training, parenting skills, improvement in child support payments, and a better relationship with their children.
In a letter to Karam, Governor Mark Sanford wrote, “You have an outstanding record as a community, civic and business leader and, in these pursuits, you have helped improve the quality of life for thousands of individuals in our state. Your work has had a positive impact on children, fathers, and families across our state, and your efforts have made South Carolina a better place to work, learn, and play.”
In addition to receiving the Order of the Palmetto award, Mayor Bob Coble presented Karam with a key to the city and proclaimed May 29 “Sister Judith Ann Karam Day.”
Karam has been a member of the boards of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Midlands Business Council in Columbia; is a member of the Health Care and Work Committee of the United Way Health Care Cabinet and the New Covenant Steering Committee; and is an advisory member of the Salkehatchie Healthy Communities Collaborative and is actively involved in various capacities within the South Carolina Hospital Association.
Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals is a not-for-profit 304-bed organization sponsored by the Sisters of Charity Health System. Other members of the Providence family include Providence Hospital, Providence Hospital Northeast, Providence Heart Institute, and Providence Orthopaedic & Neuro Spine Institute.
Providence Hospital, located on the downtown campus in Columbia, SC, is best known for the expertise in cardiac care it provides through Providence Heart Institute, which serves as a regionally recognized referral center for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Providence Hospital Northeast was established in 1999 and offers a range of medical services in surgery, emergency care, women’s and children’s services and rehabilitation. Providence Northeast is home to Providence Orthopaedic & Neuro Spine Institute, which provides medical and surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of the bones, joints and spine. A faith-based health care facility in the Midlands area of South Carolina, Providence employs more than 1,900 caring individuals.
The Sisters of Charity Health System is an organization that sponsors not only Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals, but also Healthy Learners, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and the South Carolina Center for Fathers & Families. In addition to its ministries in South Carolina, the Sisters of Charity Health System serves Northeast Ohio through the sponsorship of three hospitals, two charitable foundations, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, and outreach ministries that address the needs of the underserved.