The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that hundreds of doctors affiliated with Abington Health met Wednesday morning to express opposition to the proposed Abington-Holy Redeemer Merger.
From the story:
“It was clear that the outrage and betrayal was felt unanimously throughout the hospital,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s OB-GYN program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”
The story cited a doctor who is in her final year of a 4-year OB-GYN residency training at Abington; she said she would not have applied to Abington Memorial Hospital had abortions been banned.
According to the story, the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions per year and "many involve women carrying defective fetuses ..."
Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System on June 27 announced a letter of intent to form a new regional health system. Abington Health President and CEO Laurence Merlis and Holy Redeemer President and CEO Michael Laign made the announcement at the Abington Township building, which is across from Abington Memorial Hospital.
Merlis said he had a “great and deep respect” for Holy Redeemer’s religious traditions; he said Holy Redeemer would continue to comply with the religious directives for a Catholic health care system, and Abington, which he called a secular organization, will continue to offer women’s and reproductive health services, but will stop offering abortions.
A patient at Abington OB-GYN, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she is now considering finding a new doctor because of the proposed "restrictions on care."
"Right now they're proposing a ban on abortions and they say that nothing else we'll be affected, but the Catholic Church doesn't believe in birth control either, so I don't believe them when they say it will only affect the hospital's abortion policy," the patient said. "If I wanted the Catholic Church to tell me how to handle my health, I'd talk to them about it in church. Also, how dare they impose their religious beliefs on someone who goes to a hospital?"
Of course, the issue is polarizing. The Philly.com article said Merlis is being "deluged" with correspondence on the issue. Locally, there is a petition to stop the Abington-Holy Redeemer merger, created by Elkins Park resident Lisa Kelley.
How do you feel about the issue? , and feel free to leave a comment.
Abington Memorial, Holy Redeemer and Lansdale hospitals will continue to serve their respective communities, according to Laign, and each will continue to have its own staff.
Talks were in the works for about a year. The yet-to-be-named regional health system will now enter a “due diligence period,” which will last up to three months. Then, the boards of each health system will enter into a definitive agreement. Laign said the new regional health system will likely have federal and state approvals to move forward by next spring.
Merlis will be the regional health system's CEO; Laign will be its COO.
Holy Redeemer Hospital dates back to 1924; Abington Memorial Hospital is ten years older.