Monday, November 1, 2010

The Martyrdom of Catholic Healthcare in America

The title may sound alarmist but I feel that is exactly what is happening in America. I feel this is due to increased competition and the ever expanding role of hospitals providing services that are contrary to teachings of the Catholic Church. The services are, arguably, required in the new health-care legislation passed by congress this year.

It is truly martyrdom because these institutions are being closed, not because of the quality of the services they provide, but for what they refuse to provide. These hospital have a choice, provide services that are contrary to their moral foundation or die. I think many, if not most, will choose to die rather than provide services mandated by our culture of death .

We have a situation in Atlanta where St Josephs Hospital is, for all intents and purposes, being forced to close its doors as a Catholic institution . This institution was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1880 and is the oldest hospital in Atlanta. Attempts at mergers have failed due to issues of "governance and operational disagreements" (in my opinion, code words for St Josephs refusal to provide services contrary to Catholic teaching). This situation at St Josephs is personal because not only have I seen the quality of the medical services provided by this hospital; but more importantly by the compassion of the hospital staff. One month ago, my mother was admitted to this hospital due to complications from ovarian cancer. She died in the intensive care unit. The level of compassion exhibited by the staff during this difficult time cannot be understated. They knew the sacredness of what was happening and treated it as such. To have a Catholic priest, who is on staff at the hospital, anoint my mother at death is not something you get in any hospital. For the rest of my life I will be thankful for the love and tenderness they showed my family during this difficult time. The closing of this great Catholic hospital will be a great loss for the City of Atlanta.

What will become of Catholic health care in America? I pray that there will somehow be a re-birth of these institutions, where the traditions started by people like the Sisters of Mercy at St Josephs will continue.


  1. The "re-birth" of these institutions ultimately depend upon us, the consumers. If we take the time of find out which hospitals promote the culture of life and refuse to give our business to those that do not, then Catholic hospitals will thrive again. That is to say, the same values and commitment that gave birth to Catholic hospitals are required for their re-birth.

  2. I am not as optimistic as you are. With all hospitals dependent upon federal assistance to survive, any hospital not taking those funds cannot compete in the market place.

    I think that a paradigm shift may be in order. How do they re-invent themselves to continue to provide basic medical services and still maintain their values.