Big Victory! AZ Hospital Board Calls off Affiliation with Catholic Health System
Friday, April 29, 2011 at 02:00PM
MW Editor in ERDs, coalition, grassroots, merger, miscarriage, reproductive health, tubal

MergerWatch is celebrating a big victory this month!
A rural community in Arizona will no longer be subjected to restricted care at the only hospital
in a 3-county area.

Sierra Vista Regional Health Center, an independent hospital in Southeastern Arizona, announced it has ended a controversial trial affiliation with Carondelet Health Network, a Catholic health system. The affiliation had required the secular hospital to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services, curtailing the provision of key reproductive health services at a facility that is the sole provider of hospital care for a rural three-county region near the border with Mexico.

MergerWatch staff traveled to Sierra Vista to celebrate with those who led the community coalition that successfully campaigned for an end to the trial affiliation. This video is a great tribute to grassroots community organizing and features the first rally against the partnership held last spring as well as the celebration rally held while MergerWatch was visiting.

MergerWatch and the National Women’s Law Center had worked together to help residents and affected physicians organize and oppose the affiliation. A protest group, Cochise Citizens for Patients’ Rights (CCPR), had been picketing the hospital, staging rallies and taking out ads in the local newspaper since the 2-year affiliation was announced in April of 2010. The group filed a complaint with the state Attorney General last fall claiming the affiliation changed the mission of the secular hospital. One obstetrician left the community in protest. Another obstetrician was forced to send a patient 80 miles away to a hospital in Tucson for a pregnancy termination after she miscarried one of two 15-week twins at home and it was clear the remaining twin could not survive. Women reported they were refused voluntary tubal ligations at the time of cesarean section deliveries at the hospital.

The controversy over the affiliation had recently received national attention in the Washington Post and on the PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, which aired just days before the deal was called off.

See the MergerWatch Press Release and the local press coverage here and here for more details on this big victory.

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