Monday, October 14, 2013

"Catholic" Hospitals Operating (No pun intended) in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

"Catholic" Hospitals Operating (No pun intended) in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, six "Catholic" hospitals operate:

  1. Holy Redeemer

    (Five hospitals in the Archdiocese fall under Catholic Health East, which merged with Trinity Health as of 5/1/13, for a joint national presence of 82 hospitals: "The new system will have annual operating revenues of about $13.3 billion and assets of about $19.3 billion.Catholic Health East itself is headquartered in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as is the Catholic Medical Association, the Institute for Catholic Bioethics at Saint Joseph's Universityand the National Catholic Bioethics Center.)



With the Catholic Medical Association, the Institute for Catholic Bioethics, and the National Catholic Bioethics Center all headquartered in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,  it is curious that so little is said  about certain shocking situations with hospital privileges in our Archdiocese:

    1) among OBGYNs with privileges, there is a paucity of NFP-only physicians (i.e., Only one OBGYN can be identified who is on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs);

Perhaps, federal funding is largely responsible for placing Catholic hospitals in positions of untenable ethical compromise.  Yet rather than allow "privileges" to inappropriate physicians, couldn't hospitals simply push themselves away from the federal funding trough? (cf., In Admitting Privileges Fight, Wisconsin Churches Discover the Flip Side of Federal Funding, Live Action News, 8/15/13) 

"End of Life" Care and Information

Just to our East, New Jersey dioceses seem comfortable with something called, "POLST":
    “A new form intended to guide end-of-life healthcare decisions is forcing Catholic hospitals and nursing homes to take a position on a contentious ethical issue, but New Jersey church leaders appear to be having an easier time supporting …. the Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form….

    “It is similar to an advance directive, but unlike those documents it has the force of a doctor’s order and must be followed by other healthcare providers

    “The forms used in other states were criticized in a paper recently published by Linacre Quarterly, the bioethics journal of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), a national doctors’ group.

    “John Brehany, an author of the paper and the CMA president and ethicist, said medical decisions are best made based on the specific circumstances that a patient faces, which a form signed months ahead of time cannot take into account

    “Some of the ethicists’ concerns focus on how nutrition and water are provided to seriously ill patients…. Some church officials are concerned that the POLST would prevent doctors from providing a form of nutrition -- such as a feeding tube -- that the church would normally considered necessary.

    “Patrick R. Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, said the POLST could be considered an extension of advance directive, a version of which the conference encourages to be used.

    “‘To the best of my knowledge there appears to be no conflicts between the New Jersey POLST law and Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues,’ Brannigan wrote in an email”
    (Andrew Kitchenman, NJ Spotlight, 9/16/13).
As per the Catholic Medical Association,
    "There are reasons to believe that the process of dying, already difficult in our contemporary, complex healthcare institutions, may only get harder given the increasing challenges in our culture ranging from rising healthcare costs to ongoing secularization. To respect human life and dignity, we must bring moral commitment, ethical principles, and the highest clinical standards to end-of-life care. We need policies to guide this care and tools to help us implement it. The POLST paradigm and form are too flawed to contribute to these goals, even though they were created with the stated goal of improving end-of-life care."
We must absolutely be concerned about what is happening with POLST, but Catholic hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are already providing information on "advance directives," which fails to clearly specify that Catholic teaching must be honored - particularly with regard to the provision of nutrition and hydration.  Neither Saint Mary's Advanced Directives and Living Wills, nor Holy Redeemer's Advance Directive form, nor Mercy Health System's Vendor Compliance Program properly specify:

    • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
    • that health care services cannot honor advance directives (e.g., non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration) opposed to Catholic teaching.).

Why do these six hospitals in our Archdiocese even bother to call themselves "Catholic"?

Perhaps, the "Catholic" label is viewed as an asset to marketing, while a genuine embrace of Catholic medical ethics may be feared to be an impediment to the bottom line (and that's making a B-I-G assumption that there is philosophical agreement with Catholic medical ethics).

$$$ ca-ching $$$ and "where your treasure lies" 

Our Catholic hospital administrators are doing very nicely financially with the status quo (cf.,; there are also some indications that some do NOT share our pro life values: 

  1. Holy Redeemer President Michael B. Laign received total compensation of $732,494 in 2010 (In 2010, Laign contributed to the campaign of pro abortion Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.).

    Catholic Health East President/CEO Judith M. Persichilli received total compensation of $2,458,985 in 2010 (In 2013, Persichilli's husband contributed to the campaign of pro abortion Congressman Rush Holt.).

    • St. Mary President/CEO Gregory T. Wozniak received total compensation of $743,547 for 2010.

      Mercy Health System President/CEO H. Ray Welch Jr. received total compensation of $1,000,036 for 2010.
      • Mercy Fitzgerald CEO Brian Finestein received total compensation of $322,461 for 2010.
      • Mercy Suburban CFO Peter Kenniff received total compensation of $217,720 for 2010.
      • Nazareth CEO Christina Fitz-Patrick received total compensation of $361,729 for 2010.
Catholic hospital administrators would appear to have minimal financial incentive in upsetting the status quo.  Speculating by where some put their money, some would also appear to have minimal philosophical incentive in upsetting the status quo.

"prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic'"

Shortly before his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI provided guidance which appears to have direct bearing on Catholic hospitals:

Email Archbishop Chaput: If a hospital does not act Catholic, it should NOT be called "Catholic."

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

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Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

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About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010