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Need Help in Your Community?

  1. Has your local hospital announced a merger or affiliation with a religiously-affiliated hospital that uses doctrine to restrict patients’ access to health services?
  2. Has a pharmacist refused to fill your prescription because of personal objections to contraception?
  3. Have you been denied medical care or information by a physician who cited religious or moral objections?

If you’ve been affected by religious restrictions when you tried to obtain health care, please let us know.
We may be able to help. 

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Hospital Mergers: Current Cases

Kingston, NY

A state-mandated merger between Catholic Benedictine and Kingston Hospitals that required the construction of a separately-incorporated outpatient surgery center to save key reproductive health services is falling apart in Kingston, NY.  HealthAlliance officials have proposed closing Kingston Hospital and keeping Benedictine open as “a single, full-service, nonsectarian community hospital in Kingston, without limitations on reproductive services.” Many questions need to be addressed, including what service bans could potentially remain at Benedictine and what is to become of Foxhall Ambulatory Surgery Center, the sole community provider for abortions, sterilizations and vasectomies. MergerWatch has re-engaged with Healthcare STAT, a community-led advocacy group that has monitored this case for the past decade.

Utica, NY

A proposed merger between Utica’s only two hospitals could affect community access to reproductive health care. MergerWatch consulted with the CEO of Faxton St. Luke Hospital repeatedly about potential pitfalls to consider when making a deal with a Catholic hospital. In December 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed that would allow the hospitals to affiliate while maintaining their respective operating philosophies using an active parent corporate model. No word on whether there will be any demands to restrict certain services. We continue to monitor this case as approvals from both the Catholic Church and the NYS Health Department are pending.

Bremerton, WA

After considering proposals from three potential partners, Harrison Medical Center announced in October, its intent to join Franciscan Health System, a large division of Catholic Health Initiatives based in Tacoma, WA. The 262-bed, non-profit facility is the only full-service hospital on the Kitsap Peninsula. The next closest acute care hospitals are in Seattle, an hour-long ferry ride away. Health care advocates have met with hospital leadership to express concerns about the alliance. The affiliation agreement is now before the Department of Health, which will determine if the deal requires state review.  Local advocates have implored state officials to carefully review this deal. Without it, there is no avenue for the community to voice their concerns. Their decision is currently pending.

Mount Vernon/Anacortes/Arlington, WA

Three public hospitals–Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, Island Hospital in Anacortes and Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington–have announced their intentions to look as a group into partnering with a larger Northwest-based health care system. A Commissioner involved with the process has indicated that Providence and PeaceHealth are among interested parties. Skagit Valleyand Island Hospitals are located in the rural county of Skagit. Cascade Valley is located in Snohomish County, just north of Seattle. If these hospitals partner with a Catholic system, there would be no secular facilities in the northwest corner of the state. MergerWatch is actively helping local activists raise concerns about choosing a Catholic partner. Recently over 600 community members attended a public forum where the four bidders shared their proposals for the three hospitals. The hospital commissioners got a clear message from the community: go with a secular partner.