Below you will find information about the pending merger between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. Dignity Health operates and controls 31 hospitals in California, including the French Hospital Medical Center and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital.
Dignity Health (a Catholic health care institution that operates French and Arroyo Grande hospitals in San Luis Obispo County) and Catholic Healthcare Initiatives intend to merge, creating a mega Catholic health system that if approved would become the largest non-profit hospital system in the country. As health care institutions merge, the choices of where to get health care become more limited, putting at risk access to reproductive health services, gender-affirming care, end-of-life care, and services for low-income communities, including Medi-Cal enrollees and recipients of charity care.
California Attorney General Becerra is seeking public input on this proposed merger. Attend the public hearing and make a brief comment about the impact this merger could have. Dignity Health spokesperson says “services will not be changed or reduced at any Dignity Health facilities as a result of this alignment.” Let’s hold them to it, as well as enhancing services through this regulatory process. If you don’t want to comment, you can still show up in support with a sign – download here.
Dignity Health and CHI are both Catholic health systems. Catholic hospitals typically follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs). The ERDs forbid reproductive health services, including all birth control methods, sterilization, miscarriage management, abortion, the least invasive treatments for ectopic pregnancies, and some infertility treatments. The ERDs provide no exceptions for risks to a patient’s health or even life.
Hospitals that do not strictly follow the ERDs are subject to the “Statement of Common Values” and may perform some reproductive health services; however, assisted reproductive technologies like in-vitro fertilization, abortion, and medical aid in dying are prohibited. LGBTQ+ affirming care and transition services for the transgender community are not addressed, and vary by facility.
According to the Catholic Church’s recently released updated version of the ERDs, any mergers must be operated “in full accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.”
“In any kind of collaboration, whatever comes under the control of the Catholic institution—whether by acquisition, governance, or management—must be operated in full accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, including these Directives.”
This raises concerns about the access to medical services in our area. Add your voice to ensure that every person, regardless of income, location or gender identity, has access to quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, and medically accurate sex and reproductive health education.
If you are unable to attend the public meeting, you can comment by contacting Wendi A. Horwitz, Deputy Attorney General, by telephone at (213) 269-6552, by email at email@example.com, or by mail at 300 South Spring Street, Suite 1702, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The deadline for receipt of written comments is September 27, 2018. Template letter can be downloaded HERE.
Call To Action Facebook Event Page – https://www.facebook.com/events/265166224127112/
Guide to Making a Public Comment – Guide to Providing Public Comments
Signs for Public Hearing – download here
Template Letter to CA Attorney General – Template letter to California Deputy Attorney General RE Dignity/CHI Merger
Letter from San Luis Obispo LGBTQ+ Coalition – Click here to read
FAQ’s About Dignity Health/Catholic Health Initiatives Merger – Fact Sheet
Vita Miller, R.N., and Denise Taylor, M.D., discussing Dignity Health Merger on Dave Congalton’s Show – http://www.920kvec.com/davecongalton/posts/air-date-sept-13-2018-seg5-vita-miller-and-dr-denise-taylor-look-at-the-proposed-dignity-health-merger.php.
Letter from Dr. Susan Robinson, M.D, F.A.C.O.G. – Explanation of Ethical and Religious Directives in Regards to Women’s Health and Reproductive Services, and End of Life Care
New York Times – As Catholic Hospitals Expand, So Do Limits on Some Procedures
After experiencing life-threatening pre-eclampsia during her first two pregnancies, Jennafer Norris decided she could not risk getting pregnant again. But several years later, suffering debilitating headaches and soaring blood pressure, she realized her I.U.D. had failed. She was pregnant, and the condition had returned.
At 30 weeks, with her health deteriorating, she was admitted to her local hospital in Rogers, Ark., for an emergency cesarean section. To ensure that she would never again be at risk, she asked her obstetrician to tie her tubes immediately following the delivery.
The doctor’s response stunned her. “She said she’d love to but couldn’t because it was a Catholic hospital,” Ms. Norris, 38, recalled in an interview.
Modern Healthcare – CHI/Dignity Merger Approval May Hinge on Catholic Religious Rules for Care
Patients may not understand that care decisions are being driven by religious rather than medical protocols, said Dr. Pratima Gupta, a San Francisco OB-GYN who has had patients come to her after encountering problems in receiving needed care at Catholic hospitals.
National Health Law Program – Pending Catholic Hospital Mergers Threaten Healthcare Access in California Communities
Amidst a slew of recent hospital system acquisitions and consolidations, Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) are seeking to merge into one colossal system. If approved, they would be the largest non-profit hospital system in the country. Dignity Health has 39 hospitals, in California, Arizona, and Nevada, and provides care in 21 states. CHI spans 18 states and has 103 hospitals, including four academic health centers, major teaching hospitals, and 30 critical access facilities. The new merged system would cover 28 states and have 139 hospitals, more than 700 care sites, and a combined revenue of 28.4 billion dollars. In California alone, Dignity Health has 31 hospitals across 17 different counties and CHI does not presently have any hospitals.
This proposed merger could potentially impede access to critical health services for California communities. Specifically, this merger arrangement puts at risk access to reproductive health services, gender-affirming care, and services for low-income communities, including Medi-Cal enrollees and recipients of charity care and community benefits.
California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom – Action Guide and Resources to Push Back Against Hospital Mergers
#OutForMentalHealth – Social Media Toolkit
California LGBT Health and Human Services Network – Why I’m Speaking Out on the Pending Catholic Hospital Mergers
Dannie Cesena’s Los Angeles Meeting Testimony – YouTube video
Dignity Health Statement of Common Values – https://dignityhlth.org/2OlrP3F
For Dignity Health, respecting the dignity of persons requires reverence at every stage of life’s journey from conception to natural death. Therefore, direct abortion is not performed. Reproductive technologies in which conception occurs outside a woman’s body will not be part of Dignity Health’s services. This includes in-vitro fertilization.
Dignity Health Prohibits Employees from Participating in End of Life Option Act – End of Life Option Act Dignity Policy
In March, Dignity Health executive leadership approved a policy that states Dignity Health will not participate in the activities authorized under the act. This includes all Dignity Health hospitals, home care providers, hospices, and physicians in the Dignity Health Medical Foundation.
US Conference of Catholic Bishops – Ethical and Religious Directives
Health Care Impact Statement in San Luis Obispo County – https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/charities/nonprofithosp/dignity-chi-slo-santa-barbara-healthcare-impact-statement-report.pdf