Yearly staff retreats are as endemic to business culture as annual holiday parties. This being its first year as a true business entity, however, the Health System held its first retreat last weekend.

The day-long event took place in the R. David Thomas Center at the Fuqua School of Business and included the leaders of the Health System and representatives from each of its health care components-about 42 people. Many of these members have met together before but not as an official health system.

"From last year to this year, we had so many new representatives there," said Dr. Ralph Snyderman, chancellor for Health Affairs. "The committee was a joy to behold."

He said that one of the purposes of this year's meeting was to bring together the leaders of each branch. "One component of the health system can get benefits from other components," he said.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Development Thomas Gambill, an organizer of the meeting, added that the retreat had two additional purposes: refining the Health System's mission and establishing its overarching strategic objectives.

The results of the discussion and an earlier survey dealing with similar questions are currently being compiled. The documents will be made public and actively disseminated to employees and staff within the month.

The strategic objectives will then serve as a guide for the agendas of each of the Health System's entities.

"It's certainly nothing different than what Ralph and others described," Gambill said. "It's more a matter of putting on paper what we've been saying all along."