CATHOLIC HEALTHCARE WEST: Ends Family Planning Services in Gilroy
When St. Louise Regional Medical Center opens its doors today in the Gilroy building that formerly housed the South Valley Community Hospital, "birth control, sterilizations, abortions -- even condoms -- will be a thing of the past at Gilory's only hospital," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Catholic Healthcare West moved St. Louise Hospital in Morgan Hill to the Gilroy building, and officials have said "they are not eliminating any services." A CHW spokesperson said, "We will continue to offer the same services we always offered at St. Louise" Hospital. But the new medical center will ban most family planning procedures and allow a county rape-crisis team to distribute emergency contraception for rape victims. Dr. Jumnah Thanapathy, chief of obstetrics at CHW's St. Louise Hospital, said that he used to perform tubal ligations at South Valley Hospital. He said, "Of course they're eliminating services. The new hospital will basically be servicing two communities, and to not have any facilities in the community to do tubal ligations is kind of shameful." Thanapathy predicted that women hospitalized to deliver "won't get their tubes tied, and they'll come back pregnant again." Under the arrangement, even those women who had previously made arrangements with South Valley Hospital for tubal ligation will have to travel 25-35 miles to the nearest hospital willing to perform the procedure. All five obstetricians with practices in the Morgan Hill and Gilroy areas have urged the CHW board to allow tubal ligations at the facility, but "it appears that there is not much they can do except persuade CHW to change its policies." The Chronicle reports that South Valley Hospital performs fewer than 100 tubal ligations annually and about nine abortions. With 48 hospitals in the state, CHW bans tubal ligations at only 18. "It's not our intention to squeeze out women's health care," Polzoni said, "Only 88 Catholic hospitals (throughout the country) are sole providers in a county. This is not necessarily an attempt to squeeze out Roe v. Wade." The Women's Law Center's Sepi Djavaheri took issue with CHW's "community model," in which it permits tubal ligations at some hospitals but prohibits them at other facilities. "It's very subjective. If it's not a moral problem (in certain hospitals), why can't we have them here?" (Gaura, 10/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.