The future of Catholic hospitals

Remember Catholic Healthcare West?

Catholic Healthcare West now Dignity Health; Dominican Hospital to remain Catholic, hospital president says

By JONDI GUMZ – Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ – Dominican Hospital officials announced Monday that they remain wedded to the Catholic mission, despite an announcement by the hospital’s parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, to split from the Catholic Church and adopt a new name, Dignity Health.

“We will remain a Catholic hospital, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, following the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services,” Dr. Nanette Mickiewicz, Dominican Hospital president, said in a brief statement Monday. “In the rapidly changing health care environment, this new name and structure position the entire organization for growth and success.”

Beverly Grova, who heads the Dominican Hospital Foundation, reiterated that message.


In mid-December, the privately-run company was designated by Medicare as one of 26 “hospital engagement centers,” accepting a mission to change practices to reduce injuries and complications 40 percent and hospital readmissions 20 percent over three years. That initiative is funded by the federal health care reform legislation.

Catholic Healthcare West had three layers of management. Nuns from six religious orders served as corporate board members who appointed the 18-member board of directors; together they selected the executive management.

Dignity has a single board that retains nine members from Catholic Healthcare West. They include Sister Julie Hyer, a member of the Adrian Sisters who preceded Mickiewicz as Dominican Hospital president. She did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

The Diocese of Monterey had little comment on Catholic Healthcare West’s decision.

“Dignity is an independent organization that operates within the boundaries of the Diocese, but is not a part of the Diocese,” said Dean Warren Hoy, spokesman for the bishop. “Therefore, we can’t appropriately comment on their actions.”

Dignity operates three hospitals in the Diocese, Dominican in Santa Cruz, Arroyo Grande in Arroyo Grande, and French Hospital in San Luis Obispo, he said, adding, “We do not anticipate any significant changes in these three hospitals’ operations as a result of the change to Dignity Health.”

Deck pointed out Dominican’s Catholic affiliation prevents doctors there from doing a tubal ligation, a procedure to prevent future pregnancies, at the time of a Caesarean section, or an abortion.

Those who want a tubal ligation must go to Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center or Watsonville Community Hospital, he said noting abortions usually are performed at a freestanding outpatient center rather than at a hospital.

“I don’t think Dominican Hospital will start doing abortions right away,” Deck said, but he expects there will be pressure to perform that service, perhaps by setting up a separate unit.



We have seen this movie before, and it ain’t The Bells of St. Mary’s.

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  1. priests wife says:

    Lloyd Dean- the biggest bigwig at CHW (sorry ‘Dignity’) worked very closely with Obama for Obamacare….

  2. wmeyer says:

    So it seems that CHW is positioning itself to comply with Sebelius’ dictates.

    Progressives proceed as they always have, with incremental victories.

  3. Augustin57 says:

    It’s probably an honest thing they do, since they really don’t want to be Catholic anyway. The love of money is the root of all evils. Here’s an example by CHW. Now, they don’t have to stand for any morals. They can do whatever they think will fill the coffers and their pockets, like offering abortions, etc. May God have mercy on their souls.

  4. wmeyer says:

    From the Dominican Hospital website: …the gynecology department of our medical staff is highly trained in medical and surgical interventions….

    Euphemisms working overtime? Medical and surgical interventions surely does not sound like obedience to God’s will.

  5. rodin says:

    …they [the sisters] consulted with Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco and he determined the governance change was consistent with the church’s teachings and that it could proceed.

    Doesn’t sound like the Archbishop’s statement is consistent with other Archbishops and Bishops, does it?

  6. priests wife says:

    augustine- half of these CHW/Dignity hospitals have been fighting to stay Catholic (Phoenix notwithstanding)- it is just sad that the laws are making it virtually impossible to run a business and remain Catholic. While this development makes me sick at heart, it also makes me think- the majority of baptized Catholic use artificial birth control of some sort, a Catholic bishop makes 2 children out of (of course) wedlock- something is rotten. I can stay in my little Catholic bubble of pro-life friends, but the majority of people are not. That is why a majority of Catholics voted Obama in. It is time for prayer and fasting

  7. priests wife says:

    The Sisters of Mercy who sponsor our local CHW/Dignity hospital are celebrating 100 years of the hospital being in the city. There are three sponsoring sisters left- all lovely woman-living in apartments- in pant suits and using the names their parents gave them

    prayer and fasting

  8. Supertradmum says:

    This happened years ago in my hometown and the new conglomeration of hospitals which used to be Catholic and Lutheran changed the names to Genesis. I always connect it with Star Trek in my mind. Equally disastrous projects despite the awards. Now, the group does not even hire a Catholic priest as a chaplain. Cut-backs.

  9. TNCath says:

    I find this new name, “Dignity,” to be rather ominous, considering how this term has been used in the past as the name of a homosexual rights group. Hmmmm.

  10. DisturbedMary says:

    More Catholic confusion! Dominicans should be ashamed of themselves. The Bishop should be ashamed of himself. Christ turned over the tables in the temple for a lot less than this. And please, don’t anybody ask me to pray for vocations.

  11. Tim Ferguson says:

    So many of these non-parochial enterprises (hospitals, colleges, nursing homes, etc.) are run by religious orders that have failed to attract new vocations to fill out their ranks. They are facing a personnel shortage (largely of their own making) and are faced with difficult decisions on how to maintain the institutions they founded and which they once staffed almost exclusively. Sadly, these institutions, once divested of the presence of religious, quickly become totally secularized (despite initial promises to continue “in the Catholic tradition”), and the Church loses them for good. They will be difficult – if not impossible – to replicate (imagine a group of seven religious sisters attempting to open up a hospital today!).

    Catholic education is in somewhat better shape these days than Catholic healthcare, but it seems headed in the same direction. Both are hastened towards extinction by hostile cultural and governmental forces as well. The Church will adapt, as the Church does to changing cultural situations, but the death of Catholic healthcare (perhaps it might better be called a suicide) is a real tragedy of out times.

  12. Jacob says:

    TNCath, you’re not thinking big enough. When I see Dignity, I think of ‘dying with dignity’. The death panel advocates are only biding their time.

  13. Gregg the Obscure says:

    A large chain of mortuaries uses the name “Dignity“. Grotesquely fitting.

    A dozen years ago I briefly worked for CHW. That experience played a part in my conversion to Catholicism. Not only are there fewer works of mercy and more occasions of sin, there are fewer chances for evangelism – whether new or old.

  14. Clinton R. says:

    This is just more chipping away of our Catholic identity. Few want to fight for the Catholic faith, and they just cave in to the almight dollar. Look at Catholic colleges and universities. Founded to be bastions of Catholic teaching, they now have non Catholic board members and promote everything contrary to the teachings of the Church. Vatican II has made us weaker in faith and has lead to us compromising Catholic teachings. Everyday, it’s just another development that shows the true Catholic Church will continue to be reduced to a remnant until Our Lord comes again. This is just sad. Very sad.

  15. NoTambourines says:

    I guess on the bright side, they’re leaving our name as Catholics out of it. They are acknowledging, though they would spin it differently, that the label “Catholic” carries certain standards and expectations, and credibility.

    “Dignity” kind of creeps me out. It is many times less attractive of a name. It’s almost Orwellian, in a way, and as others noted above, it has some loaded connotations of various sorts.

    As an alternative to “Dignity,” did they consider “Pride?”

  16. EXCHIEF says:

    Two Churches…Roman Catholic, small in number, obedient to the will of the Holy Father. American katholic Church–large in number, disobedient, defiant, and damned.

  17. babochka69 says:

    I gave birth last year at a Catholic Healthcare West hospital. I was having my 5th baby and my 4th c-section. My OB asked me if I wanted to have my tubes tied during the c-section. She said that she needed to know in advance because she “needed to get the Pope’s permission (haha)” . I was shocked, as I didn’t think they could do tubal ligation at Mercy. I guess they just needed to justify it medically somehow. I still don’t understand how that could happen at a Catholic hospital.

  18. Precentrix says:

    For those who may not know it:

    “Dignitas” is the name of that ‘clinic’ in Switzerland where they kill people….

  19. poohbear says:

    I don’t think Dominican Hospital will start doing abortions right away, Deck said

    This is a very sad comment. It should say they won’t be doing abortions ever.

  20. Banjo pickin girl says:

    “surgical intervention” can also be fixing an ectopic pregnancy or fixing endemetriosis, etc.

  21. irishgirl says:

    Tim Ferguson-well said, as always!
    It’s the same here in my Upstate NY diocese. There are two ‘Catholic’ hospitals, which were founded by, and used to be run by, religious Sisters (in fact, one of the foundresses of both hospitals is going to be canonized sometime this year). Now they’re both run by laymen-very few Sisters. The Order that ran them is dying through lack of vocations (only one profession this past year, but a lot of deaths). The few Sisters that remain, none of them are going into nursing or hospital administration; they want to do more relevant ‘ministries’. Or else they’re too elderly and sick themselves to be of any use.
    And when ‘catholic’ hospitals stretch out their hands for funds from the government, they can’t extricate themselves from that trap….’if you lie down with dogs, be prepared to wake up with fleas’.
    The humble, hard-working and holy Sisters of all Orders who founded Catholic hospitals (when they WERE CATHOLIC) are probably looking down from heaven and shaking their heads when they see the ruin of their labors, prayers, blood, sweat and tears!
    And all in the name of money…..!

  22. Peggy R says:

    The Sisters of Mercy run at hospital in St Louis metro that has been known as St. John Mercy Medical Center. It now just called “Mercy.” Apparently, this will be a multi-state rebranding. I don’t have enough info to know what plans there are to deviate from Catholic morals on medical care. I shan’t be too surprised however.

    Similarly the Catholic Social Services of Southern IL became Christian Social Services so as to comply with the law requiring willingness to place children with homosexuals. What is also of concern is that some social service entities such as a St. John Bosco Children’s center left the diocese with the adoption agency. Won’t that entity have to drop the name St. John Bosco if it’s to be a part of the gay adoption entity?

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