Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Catholic" hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Rev. Mark G. Swope, Coordinator of Ethics Program and Ethicist 
Holy Redeemer Health System
1648 Huntingdon Pike
Meadowbrook, Pa 19046


Philip Boyle, Ph.D., VP of Mission and Ethics
Catholic Health East
3805 West Chester Pike, Suite 100
Newtown Square, Pa 19073

Mr. Richard Brochu, Chair of Ethics Resource Team 
Ms. Terri Rivera, VP for Mission and Community Health
St. Mary Medical Center
Langhorne, Pa

Nancy H. Oetinger, Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer 
Mercy Health Systems of SE Pennsylvania
One West Elm Street, Suite 100
Conshohocken, Pa 19428

Dear Father Swope, Dr. Boyle, Mr. Brochu, Ms. Rivera, and Ms. Oetinger,

With most of you, I have previously shared my concerns about the six Catholic hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

1) Holy Redeemer

Catholic Health East
2) St Mary Medical Center

Mercy Health Systems of SE Pennsylvania
3) Mercy Fitzgerald
4) Mercy Philadelphia
5) Mercy Suburban
6) Nazareth

I believe that those of us who live and/or work in the Archdiocese bear special responsibility to expose the heinous nature of "the Pill" (By the way, we just concluded the USCCB's annual NFP Awareness Week.).  Like all other areas of the country, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties are home to all sorts of pharmacies (including those in department stores and supermarkets) that sell this potential abortifacient.  We also happen to be home to 2 of the world's 15 "leading" manufacturers of the Pill (i.e., Teva of North Wales and Wyeth of St. Davids; See # 1 and # 2. ) Judging by their minimal presence on One More Soul's  NFP-only list, it appears that most Catholic hospital OBGYNs have little problem with prescribing the Pill.

1) Holy Redeemer

NO OBGYN can be found on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs.  However, it has been reported that Dr. Monique Ruberu may belong on that list.  Please clarify.  Is Dr. Ruberu an NFP-ONLY OBGYN?

The obstetrician directory lists five "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians," each of whom turns out to be an IVF specialist.  Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, Benjamin Gocial, and Jacqueline Gutmann are with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia. Dr. Jennifer Nichols is with Abington Reproductive Medicine.

It is also deeply disturbing that the Advance Directive form fails to clearly specify:
  • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
  • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration.
The article, Holy Redeemer Hospice hosts end-of-life discussions (CatholicPhilly.com, 4/28/14) comes with apparently un-vetted links to the National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) and the My Gift of Grace card game.  By contrasts, Judie Brown's Advance Directives Are a Bad Idea (5/2/14) includes a link to the "American Life League’s loving will, a truly pro-life alternative to the living will."

2) St Mary Medical Center

Kudos for having the one identifiable NFP-only OBGYN in our Catholic hospitals, for having a retail pharmacy which does not fill contraceptive prescriptions (one of a mere handful in the country, by the way!), and for being associated with the Creighton Model Fertility Care System.  Tragically, that is NOT the end of the story.  For one thing, St. Mary lists 27 other OBGYNs who cannot be found on the NFP-only list.  Of particular concern are Drs. Richard Latta, Marc Rosenn, and Stephen Smith, each of whom is from Abington Perinatal Associates. - a practice which has been reported to be involved with fetal "reduction" – a euphemism for abortion (See # 1, # 2, and # 3.).

In addition, Saint Mary's Advanced Directives and Living Wills fails to clearly specify:
  •  Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
  • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration.

3) Mercy Fitzgerald, 4) Mercy Philadelphia, 5) Mercy Suburban, 6) Nazareth

There is No OBGYN in the Mercy Health System of Southeast Pennsylvania, who can be identified on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs.

Mercy Health System's Vendor Compliance Program fails to clearly specify:
  • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
  • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration.


If we "follow the money," the level of financial compensation to executives in our Catholic hospitals is astounding.  When entangled with such vast amounts of money, situations such as those described above are probably all the more difficult to correct.  Yet since the Archdiocese is home to the Catholic Medical Association, the Institute of Catholic Bioethics at St. Joseph's University, the John Cardinal Kroll Chair of Moral Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, I am still mystified as to how these situations continue.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops continue to ask us to advocate for passage of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940, S. 1204).  By ignoring practices absolutely inconsistent with Catholic medical ethics, you are making a mockery of such efforts.


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