Bon Secours Richmind / Hampton Roads Merger

Catholic health system to become one of VA's largest.

I work for Bon Secours and can say with an insider's perspective that this merger is only the beginning of the growth of Bon Secours across the region. Off the record, there have been attempts the merge with (smallish) secular organizations as well but those seem to have mostly fallen through for now.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, they have done a lot for me so I should be happy to see them expand. On the other hand, they follow the Directives set forth by the College of Bishops, directives which are not progressive in the least with regards to women's health and right to die. In theory all of employees (and third party vendors) are supposed to abide by these directives. In practice, I openly don't. Maybe it's because I am non-clinical but it does not impact my ability to do my job and therefore I don't believe it creates an insurmountable conflict of interest.

How do you all feel about this sort of growth? Mergers of Catholic systems in super-systems, that is. Is this just as bad as merging with secular systems if it overwhelms the community and makes the Catholic system seem like the "best option"?

More on this later, i've got to run to class. Maybe some day I will form a longish, more coherent post about my feelings towards my job and Catholic health care in general.

(fyi, yes, I do work for Bon Secours)

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Comment by Audrey on July 22, 2008 at 6:46pm
The thing that impresses me most with Bon Secours is their willingness to accept and serve all patients and their dedication to treating people equally. One thing they always say is that we serve people because of our faith, not because of the patient's.

From an internal point of view/experience they are a rather religious organization. Internal memos are constantly refering to Bon Secours values as faith-based values and growing the hospital system as a faith-inspired mission (as in, a mission from god), they open meetings with prayers, etc. But I think so many people are used to religion in general being pushy and bigotted that they find the more modest expression of faith in the hospitals to be less religious overall. I don't think it's a bad environment and I really do like working for them. Being an atheist in such an openly faith-based organization can be a little awkward sometimes but they seem cool with it so who am I to complain.

My biggest concern with the merger (and mergers like it) is the decline in quality medical treatment for young women that come as a result. BSHS - the for profit sector - includes many private practices in the Richmond area, with more joining and being formed as we speak. These practices are required to practice Catholic healthcare, which means no abortion, no sterlization, and most disturbingly no (or limited) contraceptives which of course means limited options for women living in low-income households. The refusal to perform abortions or sterlizations would not bother me so much if it wasn't couple with that last bit. In my opinion the Catholic view of healthcare is very anti-woman in general as there seems to be the underlying implication that women who are sexually active "deserve what they get." Of course this doesn't apply in practice to all women in society, but has grave implications for some of the most vulnerable.

When I think about that kind of thing it makes me feel weird about my job and grateful that I don't work a position that has any impact at all on those cases. That might present a conflict of interest that I could not reconcile. For now, doing what I do, I consider my beliefs (and lack of) to be an asset to my ability to doe my job and relate to people on a human level.

/moar rant :p
Comment by Feshy on July 22, 2008 at 4:36pm
My youngest daughter was born in a Bon Secours hospital. To me, the place seemed more "Catholic themed" than Catholic. No religious issues came up while we were there, and the facilities were considerably nicer than when we were at VCU (though the staff at both were generally great.) Of course, I also understand that our experience was shaped by the fact that we weren't doing anything the church disapproves of at the time, and there are certainly medical issues where I disagree with them.

I share your concerns about such a group becoming "the best option" (though for many it may already be.) I won't worry too much as long as there are other (reasonably good) options, at least for the services that are likely to be in conflict with a Catholic run hospital. The medical industry as a whole seems to be under tremendous pressure from all sides these days; it's hard to tell what the future will hold for a lot of the medical world.

One slightly tangential issue: I understand Christians want to have some symbol of God or Jesus hanging around when times are rough (though why they need such an idol for an omnipresent God that hates idols always escaped me.) Why, though, do they have to choose the one where he is tortured to death as their religious reminder? It was a little unsettling to have a small metal dying man above every bed in the hospital while I was there.


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