Letters to the Editor

Statements regarding care contradict one another | Letter to the editor

A warning has to be raised concerning Highline CEO Benedum’s assurances  that “patients will not notice a change; the Franciscan position is that issues such as birth control and abortion are concerns between a woman and her health care provider” (“Highline’s proposed merger won’t affect care,” Oct. 16, 2012). On April 11, I questioned Mr. Benedum about the evident conflict with the position of the Franciscan Health System (FHS), which is posted on its website: “Franciscan Health System is guided by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs).”

His reply presented the same conundrum: “The medical services available at our Vashon clinic will not change as a result of our affiliation with the Franciscan Health System” and goes on to say that “(as) part of the affiliation with the Franciscan Health System, Highline Medical Center has agreed to follow the ERDs.”

The only way these two positions can agree is temporarily. The Vashon Health Center and Highline’s other 10 clinics in the area may see no change for awhile, but they will be brought into line with the ERDs within five to seven years, if not sooner. The agreement’s Articles and Bylaws spell out how this will happen; in a nutshell all power to control resides in FHS, and Highline “acknowledges that it cannot engage in actions that conflict with the ERDs.” (Agreement sec. 13.5)

We cannot rely on promises or assurances; they are shifting sands. The takeover agreement already in place gives FHS control; Highline is totally owned by FHS.

Vast swaths of the population fall under the control of the Catholic bishops as the number of these mergers continues to grow. Women’s health, reproductive rights, birth control and Washington’s Death with Dignity Act are at risk.

— Jill Janow

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