And the staff isn’t very happy about the new rules:
Abington Memorial Hospital, the only level-2 trauma center in Montgomery County, enjoys a sterling reputation for its more than 60 physicians in obstetrics and gynecology. The medical center is far larger and generates more than twice the revenue of Holy Redeemer.
Yet, in the announced merger of the two hospitals, one that is being widely decried by staff and patients, the Catholic medical facility appears to triumph in dictating reproductive health care policy to secular Abington, eliminating abortion services, while securing chairmanship of the board.
It’s a case of the marlin swallowing the whale.
For physicians and patients who make clear, conscious decisions about working at or patronizing a sectarian or independent medical facility, the merger is heresy.
“I am extremely, extremely upset about this,” says Abington obstetrician Sherry Blumenthal. “No one in our department was consulted. This decision reduces our commitment to health care for women.” Blumenthal is contemplating severing her 22-year relationship with Abington, and says she’s not alone. “I know of at least 10 physicians who are considering leaving.”
Abington performed 64 abortions last year, 69 in 2010, many of which were for women at high risk, where their pregnancy seriously compromised their health.
Independent clinics perform 95 percent of all abortions in the state, but hospitals with top women’s health departments like Abington are the safest choice for patients undergoing troubled pregnancies. The hospital is one of the three largest in the state for obstetrics, delivering 5,000 babies each year. Once the hospital merger is completed, possibly in spring 2013, Abington patients will have to go elsewhere for abortions in a state where conservative lawmakers are doing everything possible to restrict a woman’s access to a legal medical procedure.
Hospital officials – eager to announce the merger, less eager to address specifics – did not comment on whether selective reduction will continue at the hospital, home to a large in vitro fertilization practice. Catholic hospitals ban the IVF procedure.
“Abington Health will continue to provide contraceptive services and counseling, tubal ligations and vasectomies,” according to an official statement Friday, but these practices are also contrary to Catholic Church hospital practices.
Will Abington-Holy Redeemer – or whatever the name becomes – be a little bit Catholic?