SACRAMENTO — The hospital.
It’s where we go when there’s something wrong that we just can’t solve ourselves.
But many are worried that an impending merger between the Catholic Health Initiatives System and local hospitals run by Dignity Health may leave access to care for some flatlined.
“People shouldn’t face discrimination when receiving health care,” said Amanda McAllister-Wallner.
The merger currently under review by the attorney general creates anxiety over just that possibility for the LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, the agency McAllister-Wallner directs.
It centers around the Ethical and Religious Directives church-sponsored hospitals are required to follow.
After Dignity’s governance restructure and name change in 2012, its Catholic-sponsored facilities remained Catholic and its other-than-Catholic hospitals remained other-than-Catholic.
Representatives say that will continue as part of the proposed alignment with Catholic Health Initiatives.
With much about LGBTQ lifestyles not accepted by the church, other patients could find themselves in care quandaries like Evan Minton did two years ago.
The transgender man was denied a hysterectomy at one Dignity facility operating under the religious directives, finally treated at another that was not.
And if you think the merger may have nothing to do with you because you’re not gay…
“From the pill to IUDs to abortions – even in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, many Catholic hospitals will not allow for an abortion to be performed,” said McAllister-Wallner.
Several of Dignity’s California facilities are the only hospital within a reasonable distance from a populated area.
That’s another factor that has Health Access Executive Director Anthony Wright concerned about a possible consolidation in emergency services through the merger.
And even though all this involves a church, he says the loss of charity care could also be an issue.
He helped fight off a separate request about that last year – appealing to the attorney general.
“Some non-profit and even religious based hospitals have even sought to reduce the amount of charity care they are providing at a time when still have several million uninsured in California,” said Wright.
Wright’s group hopes members of the public sound off about the kind of health care system they want at forums planned by the attorney general around the state about the merger.
The next one is Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. at the California Agriculture Museum in Woodland.
You also have until September 26th to submit your comments about the merger to the A-G in writing.
As Xavier Becerra reviews the plan between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, he could deny it or place conditions on it that keep current access levels in place for a number of years.
Representatives from Dignity Health tell FOX40 that a third-party review ordered by Becerra about the merger has already found there would be no reduction in any services as a result of the combination.
Here’s the full statement from Dignity Health about the proposal:
Dignity Health is coming together with Catholic Health Initiatives to strengthen our ability to meet the health and social needs of our communities for many years to come. There will be no reduction in any service currently provided at any Catholic or other-than-Catholic hospital as a result of our alignment, which is made clear in the Attorney General’s independent Health Impact Report. That includes women’s health services. Any service that is offered today will be offered tomorrow to all members of our community.
We also have a longstanding commitment to providing charity care for our most vulnerable patients, supporting a wide range of community health programs, and serving as the largest private provider of Medi-Cal patients in the state. We will continue to provide the same charity care and community health programs in the region we serve.
Dignity hospitals in the Sacramento region include Mercy General in Sacramento, Mercy Hospital of Folsom, Mercy San Juan in Carmichael, Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, Sierra Nevada Memorial in Grass Valley and Woodland Memorial Hospital in Woodland.