Local groups voice concerns about Dignity Health, Catholic Healthcare Initiatives alignment

Posted at 5:21 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 20:21:51-04

Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives are working on combining services.

Dignity Health owns several facilities on the Central Coast including French Hospital Medical Center, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, and Marian Regional Medical Center.

Dignity Health representatives say the partnership will allow them to expand health care and invest in new technology, but some local groups worry that medical decisions will be driven by religious rather than medical protocols.

Women’s March SLO, in coalition with groups like the California LGBT Health and Human Services Network, says the alignment of the two companies may restrict options for patients. They’re calling for the public to voice their concerns at an upcoming meeting concerning the merger.

"A religious institution will possibly be delivering the way health care is delivered. That could result in women’s reproductive services being reduced or not even offered. That also may result in the LGBTQ community having a reduction in services," said Vita Miller, who is a retired registered nurse who worked in San Luis Obispo County for 35 years.

Dignity Health representatives say patients won’t see any change in services. California’s Attorney General hired an outside company to evaluate how the alignment between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Services would impact local services. In part, the report says:

"Because French Hospital Medical Center and Arroyo Grande are already subject to the Statement of Common Values and not the ERDs, the transaction is not expected to result in any reductions in the availability or accessibility of reproductive health services at French Hospital Medical Center."

Marian Medical Center is a Catholic hospital and operates under the Catholic Church’s principals and directives. According to the new report, there will not be any future cuts to the reproductive health services at that location either.

There’s a public hearing about the potential alignment scheduled Friday, September 21 at 10 a.m. at the Ludwick Community Center in San Luis Obispo. The public is invited to attend.