Do you have increasing numbers of mergers between health care facilities occurring in you community or state? Do the mergers involve one or more religious facilities? Do you notice if the mergers cause restrictions on certain types of health care, such as End-of-Life options, treatment of LGBT individuals, family planning options (for both men and women), etc? Do the facilities even provide this information publicly? 

My state is seeing mergers occur at an unprecedented rate. It is predicted that up to 40% of all health care providers in the entire state will eventually be subjected, on way or another, to a Religious Health Care Mission that restricts certain services. I am involved in developing news and comments on this issue, as it has become a legislative priority.

I would be interested in hearing from you, if you have knowledge of this issue, and are concerned.

Links:

Merger Watch

Equality Federation

ACLU Washington

Tags: care, health, mergers, religion

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Liz,

I am very concerned.

One of the big hospitals in my town sold itself to a catholic group.  That's one less nonreligious center.

We still have a big nonreligious group.  I'm glad for that.

When I had an emergency, the ambulance refused to take me to my own health plan's hospital, a 30 min drive further away.  I understood that.  I hated being at the catholic hospital.  When I was stable, I insisted on transfer.  Since my health plan does not like for patients to be in competing hospitals, they supported the transfer. 

Years ago, when I was applying for a position, I applied at PeaceHealth.  I didn't know at the time they were a catholic organization.  As part of the interview, they administered a "psychological test" which, perversely, they stated would have no impact on the hiring process.   Which of course is a lie no one would believe.  There were all sorts of questions about how did I respond to authority, and stereotypical "are you gay but we don't want to ask outright" questions, like do I like opera, and do I like pretty things.

Needless to say, I wasn't offered the job.  When I asked why - a reasonable question, asked politely, when someone wants to improve their interview skills, they said they wanted someone local.  So why did I pay airfare and hotel for their interview?

That's the trouble.  They lie at every level.  They lie in hiring.  They lie when they say they don't proselytize.  They discriminate.  They avoid allowing reproductive rights.  When my dad was near his death, they pushed back, multiple times, when I asked for hospice.  Which, ironically, extended his life by stopping chemotherapy that, while possibly holding his cancer in check, also ravaged his immune system, digestive system, and brain.

Catholic and other religious take-over of hospitals is a bad thing.

Thank you for your personal experience and insight. I did not know they were administering "psychological testing" as part of the hiring process, that is interesting. These types of tests can be easily used in discrimination, very good point.

You may be interested in this recent article on how Catholic Hospitals are apparently willing to say one thing, but do another, when it is necessary to protect themselves from medical malpractice. Most Catholic Hospitals have a Religious Health Initiative or similar clause that states abortion is bad and life begins at conception. In Colorado,  state law says an embryo is not a person until it is born alive.

In this case, a woman came into the hospital vomiting and in the late stages of pregnancy with twins. She fainted. The medical staff tried to revive her and paged her obstetrician, who was also on call for any obstetric emergencies that night. The obstetrician never answered the page. 

The medical staff were unsuccessful in reviving the woman. Less than an hour after she fainted, she, along with both her twins in her womb, were dead.

The father sues for wrongful death, stating that under the Catholic Hospital's own management, they treat embryo's as living humans, and the hospital did not do everything in its ability to save his two twins. 

The Hospital however, does a complete turn-around and sides with state law, which says embryos are not human until born. This obviously protects the hospital from liability. Read more here - 

Catholic Hospital Steps Over "Pro Life" Stance in Hopes of Winning ...

 

I remember that.  They must take special classes in hypocrisy, dissembling, and lying.

Fantastic forum for those of you who want more information about this issue, and how a Catholic hospital can affect your ability to receive end-of-life care, including ending tube-feeding, whether they will respect your Advanced Directive or not, their conflicts with Death with Dignity, restrictions on providing basic types of reproductive services (emergency versus elective abortions, ectopic pregnancy, vasectomies, in-vitro fertilization, STD treatment, etc.), and restrictions on stem-cell research.

http://seattlecommunitymedia.org/series/pirate-television-web-versi...

It is well worth the time.

Yes, I am going to keep adding information to this thread, in case anyone is searching for information on mergers. 

Just found the Catholic Health Religious Doctrine. Attached.

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services ...

What this is: Rules prescribed by the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. These doctrines are in turn created by religious leaders in the Vatican, far from the immediate needs and situations of the people affected. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services is a set of 70 guidelines which were issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1994.

How it affects Catholic Hospitals: Catholic hospitals are bound by this Religious Doctrine, to varying degrees. Some Catholic Health Programs are very restrictive, and go so far as to gag their employees from discussing certain End of Life options that are banned in this Doctrine (Death with Dignity). Other Catholic Health Programs are a bit more flexible. One thing is clear, they are not open about how restrictive they are, and what services they provide. Your "Advanced Directive" may or may not be honored. 

How it affects your care: Your medical care is not based in science, it is based in this Religious Doctrine, which has its foundation in the Bible and the Pope's teachings. Science is an afterthought. Take Directive Number Four which states " A Catholic health care institution, especially a teaching hospital, will promote medical research consistent with its mission of providing health care and with concern for the responsible stewardship of health care resources. Such medical research must adhere to Catholic moral principles."

What services can be restricted?: As described in this document, the Catholic Church sees that it is necessary to force their moral principles upon patients in the areas of: Stem-cell research, no fertility implants, vasectomies, no treatment for ectopic pregnancies, restrictions on end-of-life care, questions on tube-feeding ("conservation of life" morals), restrictions on reproductive rights and family planning services, no providing emergency or elective abortions after a rape.

The Doctrine again inserts its religious morals ahead of science in the practice of medicine, restricting treatment for infertility - (p. 24) " With the advance of the biological and medical sciences, society has at its disposal new technologies for responding to the problem of infertility. While we rejoice in the potential for good inherent in many of these technologies, we cannot assume that what is technically possible is always morally right."

Dangerous statements about end-of-life care are found. If you find yourself brain-dead, your partner or loved one ("surrogate") would represent your wishes. Those wishes, and your Advanced Directive, would only be followed "so long as it does not contradict Catholic principles."

Church and State Issues: When mergers occur such that a Catholic facility is the only health care option in a rural area, that facility will receive public dollars (state and federal subsidies) for providing health care services. Shouldn't a hospital or other health care facility abide by state and federal law before accepting public (taxpayer) dollars? This is one of the problems. 

Please download a copy of these Directives and become familiar with your hospitals. Is your hospital a Catholic hospital? Is it operating under these Directives? You have a right to know. Your public dollars are funding these hospitals. Demand open and transparent information about the services they provide, and the services they restrict.

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