Catholic Hospital Mergers

Yes, I know that phrases like “the implications of hospital mergers” probably drive traffic away from the site, but I find this disturbing. Via a site called Mergerwatch, I find that a local hospital is merging with a Catholic hospital system, and one result is a restriction on the types of services the hospital can perform:

Northeast Health has agreed to abide by Catholic health restrictions upon completion of its affiliation with two Catholic systems, St. Peter’s Hospital (part of Catholic Health East) and Seton Health (part of the Catholic Ascension Health system). That change in hospital policy means an end to abortions, tubal ligations, contraceptive counseling and other services at Northeast Health’s Samaritan Hospital in Troy and Memorial Hospital in Albany. The impact would be particularly severe in Troy, where the only other hospital is St. Mary’s, part of the Seton Health with which Northeast Health is affiliating.

Ugh. While this won’t directly affect me, it’s going to be bad news for the greater Albany region if most of our hospitals can’t offer contraceptives, particularly with the cuts to Planned Parenthood. There’s a compromise of sorts, but it’s marginal:

The solution is the Burdett Care Center, a 20-bed maternity facility on the second floor of Samaritan Hospital. It is separately incorporated to insulate the center from the Catholic restrictions that now prevails in the rest of the hospital. As part of the state approval, the center had to be completed prior to the secular hospital’s merger with the two Catholic health systems. The Burdett Care Center consolidates all maternity services from both Troy hospitals and allows women delivering babies to have post-partum tubal ligations

“insulate the center from the Catholic restrictions” That makes it sound like Catholic teachings are some kind of EM field.

The regional Planned Parenthood is keeping an eye on things. I like and respect the people who run PP, but I don’t know how much they can do in this situation.

Is this happening in any other parts of the world? Does the Catholic Church have an out-sized role in hospital care everywhere, or is it just here?

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  • TheTrueScotsman

    Given that most hospitals are state owned and controlled, this is not an issue here in the UK. Hospitals do have chaplains but these are only there for the patients if required.

    The Catholic church has their fingers deep into school-kids though…sorry, I meant schools. Here in Scotland every school district will have at least one Catholic high-school (>11/12 years old) and several Primaries. (pre-11/12). Although funded by the state and teaching to the national standards, they nonetheless have a “Catholic Ethos” in both behaviour, teaching and staffing. Non-catholics cannot become senior staff and, though they would refute it, many schools operate an unofficial requirement for pupils and their parents to attend local churches in order to become a pupil.

    In theory anyone can attend these schools but they do get to pick a quota of “catholic children”. Unfortunately it allows the schools to operate a discriminatory process to take higher performing non-catholic pupils and therefore achieve higher results, and so propagate the illusion that they are therefore “better” schools – which in turn attracts parents of higher performing pupils etc, etc, etc…

    As soon as someone questions this abuse of education, the Church instantly calls the critics out by playing the “sectarian bigot” card and immediately stifles any reasonable discussion. It is so entrenched in Scotland I cannot see how we will ever change it…

    I went to a Catholic Primary which had Friday mass in the Gym hall, rehearsals for 1st communion and confirmation and regular class attendance from nuns and priests – despite being a fully state-funded establishment.

    • JohnMWhite

      Same deal when I was in school – we wasted an inordinate amount of time learning to sing hymns and practicing and preparing for sacraments, and in seven years of primary school had not one single science lesson. The only time my little goody two-shoes self got in trouble in primary school was when the head teacher got angry with me for not smiling while preparing for First Communion. “But why should I smile when I am eating god?” I asked, presuming this was supposed to be a solemn occasion.

      Aside from wasting time, though, the issue was not a big deal in primary. High school was something else – the ‘Catholic Ethos’ of the school was simply an excuse to bully and chastise anyone who did not conform to the staff’s exacting standards. It was ok to pick on goths, because they were Satanists and wore non-uniform clothing, and it was ok to beat up slight, ‘effeminate’ students because they were probably gay. The ‘troublemakers’ were the ones who asked questions or complained about mistreatment, and they were thrown to the wolves to get them to shut up. The pupils were effectively used to enforce the status quo on themselves, and any attempt at theological debate was shouted down and at times punished. I knew one student who was routinely kicked out of RE class because he was “imperiling the souls of the other students”.

      I don’t think it was purely Catholicism that drove this, we had some pretty vicious personalities running the school who had great ambitions and control issues, but Catholic hierarchies do seem to have a penchant for exerting unreasonable control over children. Certain staff members would explode if you wore the wrong coloured socks, and I don’t think that’s a theological issue, they just needed to control other people. They also had this bizarre notion that girls were not allowed to wear trousers, and flipped out when every single young woman in the school ignored their medieval mentality.

  • vasaroti

    The Catholic missionaries provided the first schools and the first medical facilities in many parts of the world. I hope ways to secularize the functioning institutions can be found. All I can think of at the moment is to hope that there just won’t be enough Catholics in the next generation to staff these institutions. I’m actually surprised the Church hasn’t had to sell some off to meet big payouts for child abuse. Perhaps we might encourage those investigating medicare fraud to have a close look.

    @Thetruescotsman- I haven’t seen the local Catholic school suck in the brightest students, but they have certainly pulled in many of the wealthiest, with the result that when you see the uniform you can pretty much assume that the kid will be a selfish brat. I know of two very skilled teachers who left because the nuns refused to give them a raise. Some years ago the right-winger Gordon Liddy promoted the legend of the academically superior Catholic school on his radio show; that may have been a contributing factor.

    • JohnMWhite

      The school I went to was actually the best performing in the county, but I believe that was largely due to it having a relatively wealthy catchment area and the fact that a good few of us actually worked hard and gave a crap about our futures in spite of the staff and their focus on the most petty of things, like socks.

  • Carla

    Do these hospitals refuse to perform vasectomies, too? Or do they just blatantly discriminate against women by refusing to perform tubal ligations? More importantly, why is this legal?

    • Noelle

      They usually refuse to allow vasectomies on their properties as well, or at least coverage for employees for vasectomies. It depends though. Each company has its own policies. Also, not all urologists are owned by hospitals. If they have a private practice with their own facilities, they can perform vasectomies there. A vas is a fairly simple outpatient procedure that doesn’t require an anesthesiologist. A tubal is more invasive and will more often require the hospital facility as well as anesthesia. So it does impact women more.

    • vasaroti

      When you think about the vast number of medications that may interfere with conception or can end a pregnancy, the hypocrisy becomes clear. The truth is that studies on the effects of medications on pregnancy are only now being undertaken.

  • Ken

    Given such discriminatory practices, I would seriously investigate the levels of care given to non-Catholics, unmarried mothers and people of color. It is easy to claim to provide the same services for everyone, but one of the characteristics of bigotry is it’s inability to self-judge. Unconsciously, the
    administration may be sending messages, or condoning actions, that are simply immoral, yet conform to the brutally loving dictates of Catholicism. As long as it can be justified, patients will be left to suffer and die while the hospital wraps itself in scriptural nonsense concerning souls and satanic forces. It is impossible for any doctor or hospital to withhold care and claim the moral high ground, yet that is what they are getting away with here. Next we will be hearing that the pedophilia complaints were just misrepresented cases of demon-possessed children rebelling against mentoring (with a penis).

    • JohnMWhite

      I do wonder how Catholic hospitals function in other areas when they are so clearly ready to throw out all medical science when it comes to women’s reproductive health. If a patient with mental issues were to be taken to a Catholic institution, what are the chances they would be given an exorcism rather than a psychological evaluation and treatment? If somebody turns up with leprosy, are they going to pray it away? Will blind patients be treated with spit and dirt? From what I’ve observed so far, Catholic hospitals just do not operate that way. They only fall back on scripture when it comes to women’s reproduction. Their behaviour is so selective I cannot come to any conclusion but that it is pure misogyny. Has anyone else seen them act in a more consistent fashion?

      • Noelle

        You are correct in your observations. The only difference is with reproductive health.

  • Julie42

    What really gets to me is that while 78% of Americans may be Christian, only about 23% are Catholic. It just doesn’t seem right to have your health care under the control of people who are technically a minority in this country.
    Other branches of Christianity won’t be as strict regarding birth control because they tend to be a little bit less controlling, but at the same time, I don’t see them as protesting this sort of thing because they still don’t necessarily see birth control as a good thing and probably have an overall positive view of Catholic hospitals when they see the pictures of Jesus and know that good things are being done in this place.

  • -in

    Women, get used to giving blow jobs and having anal sex because in this day and age of unreason and hate, that’s the only sex you’ll be able to have without being punished by pregnancy (if the Catholics and the conservatives have their way). It’s not so bad … besides, the best orgasm comes from a plug-in appliance (or a mouth) so forget about “normal” sexual activity and get creative. You’ll be happier, healthier and richer (no more birth control pills, etc.). And, you can say “Eff you” to all those women-hating Christians.

    • vasaroti

      “that’s the only sex you’ll be able to have”
      Slight problem here. For many, if not most women, these activities are work, not sex.

      • JohnMWhite

        Indeed. Not to mention that they are still condemned by many Christians, and anal sex can still lead to pregnancy through the seepage of santorum downwards.

      • UrsaMinor

        I couldn’t help but notice that -in seems to be completely ignorant of the concept of man-on-woman oral sex, which, the last time I checked, was normal, sexually pleasurable for both parties, and free of the risk of pregnancy.

        • Noelle

          It’s a skill many men could use more time and effort perfecting.

  • Noelle

    I’m not sure how Catholics ended up owning so many hospitals in the U.S. A quickie search shows nuns were starting up hospitals in the civil war era. Somehow that tradition kept going. These days, for hospitals and doctors offices to survive financially, they often have to be owned by a big corporation. And in health care many of those companies are catholic-affiliated. Just how they interpret those religious practices depends on the corporation, and sometimes the hospital itself (if the hospital was catholic prior to a merger, it likely has it’s own guidelines, if it was not then it will adopt what it has to, which isn’t necessarily the same as the other hospital). For many catholic-affiliated hospitals you may never notice a difference from the Methodist one in the next city. They may have no problem with tubal ligation, vasectomies, and various forms of contraception. Their surgeons will treat an ectopic pregnancy in the same appropriate manner as the one in the next town. Others won’t do tubals, unless there is a tumor or injury to the Fallopian tube. Some won’t carry contraception in their inpatient pharmacies, but will allow a patient to take her own med from home. None will perform elective abortions. But then most hospitals in the US of any affiliation don’t either. These are usually done at women’s centers and PP’s unconnected to the hospital. Most won’t offer contraceptive coverage in the employee health care plan (though hopefully recent legislation has helped them find a way around it)

    It does seem strange though. I mean, if Jehovah’s witnesses owned all the hospitals in town , would everyone be content with no blood transfusions being allowed? Why do the Catholics get a pass?

    • JohnMWhite

      Men might die from a lack of a blood transfusion. The ones with the penis.

  • Jolting Joe

    Oddly enough, Rhode Island, where I live, is the most heavily Catholic state in the nation, yet has just one Catholic-affiliated hospital.

    Concerning vasectomies, I had to hunt up a urologist who would perform the procedure about 25 years ago. A number of them in my small, very socially conservative Catholic town refused to do them. I doubt if that’s changed much.