Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Catholic hospitals should...'brand themselves' as being places where patients can feel comfortable knowing that all treatments are ethical"

Your Excellency:

I am disappointed that you have not confirmed this coming Monday afternoon's meeting. Rather than go ahead and meet with Dr. Haas alone, please suggest an alternative date/time when the three of us could meet.

In 2009 and 2010, I repeatedly expressed concerns about St. Mary Medical Center, including their involvement with IVF specialists Drs. Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, Benjamin Gocial, and Jacqueline Guttman. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from the archdiocese, confirming an ethical review. I later found the name of Drs. Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, Benjamin Gocial, and Jacqueline Guttman, as well as that of perinatologist Dr. Stephen Smith (whom a 2/9/10 Philadelphia Bulletin article indicated to have recommended an abortion) to have been removed from St. Mary's web site. So, it is particularly difficult for me to understand why Drs. Castelbaum, Freedman, Gocial, and Guttman remain on the Holy Redeemer web site and why it took until 2012 for Dr. Smith's name to be removed from the web site of Mercy Health Systems.

Your Excellency, there certainly appear to be problems with regard to implementation of the Ethical and Religious Directives in the Catholic hospitals of our archdiocese. Just over a year ago, Ann Carey noted:

  • "a survey of chairpersons of Catholic hospital ethics committees that was published in the March/April 2006 issue of Health Progress, a journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, reveals a system in disarray....

    "John Haas, a moral theologian who is president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, confirmed that people serving on Catholic hospital ethics committees generally don’t have much training in ethics....

    "Nancy Valko, a registered nurse and president of Missouri Nurses for Life, and a spokeswoman for the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, added that Catholic hospitals should seize the opportunity to 'brand themselves' as being places where patients can feel comfortable knowing that all treatments are ethical....

    "Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. [and formerly of Harrisburg], chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Task Force on Health Care, told Our Sunday Visitor that he was not aware of any past efforts by the bishops to create standards or criteria for membership on hospital ethics committees, and that issue had not been brought to the task force” (Many Hospital Ethics Boards Out of Touch with Church: Training, Improved Relations with Bishops Needed to Foster Compliance with Directives, Experts Say, OSV Newsweekly, 2/6/2011).

Your Excellency, I simply wish to see the Catholic hospitals of our archdiocese practicing in a manner which is consistent with Catholic teaching, so as to evangelize and no longer scandalize.


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