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Report: Abington Docs Meet to Oppose Proposed Merger

According to a report on Philly.com, doctors spoke today to express their opposition to the proposed Abington-Holy Redeemer regional health system.

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 ..."

See the Philly.com story here.

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.

See the petition here.

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.

Silver22 July 13, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Without taking sides on the abortion issue, it does concern me that religion can exert so much influence on healthcare. In this era of hospital consolidation, many patients have little choice but to go to the convenient hospital. There's no longer a choice of the Jewish hospital, Catholic hospital and secular hospital. For those of us in quasi-urban areas, this may not be as great of a concern, but what happens if a similar situation occurs in a more rural area (and/or if the list of banned services is broader)? Do we really want a religious organization dictating our healthcare? What if the hospital is run by a religious organization that doesn't believe in artificial devices like pacemakers or ventilators? It's a very slippery slope and I don't think any of us want to go down it.
B. Strong July 13, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Natural Rights (under our constitution): Personal Security (Life): (1) Not to be killed. (2) Not to be injured or abused. Babies living inside the womb have rights that have ZERO to do with religion. They are simply growing human beings with the same natural rights that you do. It is punishable by law if the child is killed by say a drunk driver or a gun.
Bettina July 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM
IT'S ALWAYS THE WOMAN'S CHOICE....GOD GRANTS IT BY GIVING US FREE WILL...GOD IS PRO-CHOICE. No hospital in the USA should dictate reproductive activity for a woman.

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