CHW: Applying for Funds, System Gears Up for Heat on Reproductive Rights
Having applied for $137 million in public funding for 14 California Hospitals, Catholic Healthcare West is expecting to encounter more resistance to its decision not to offer reproductive services at Gilroy's Saint Louise Regional Hospital. The funds, which would cover financing and refinancing of capital expenditures, would come through the California Statewide Communities Development Authority. But the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors must approve the application before CHW can see any of the money. While a public hearing has been scheduled for November, the Business Journal of San Jose notes that the hearing may become a protest; activists vow to speak out against CHW's ban on reproductive services. Tubal ligations are specifically at issue, as CHW refuses to perform the procedure except to save a woman's life. Activists argue that Saint Louise Regional Hospital should offer the service, as it will soon become the only hospital in southern Santa Clara County. "If they are going to get a break and the support of the county supervisors, then they should be supporting the county fully with a full range of services," said Heidi Carver Collier, president of the American Association of University Women's local branch. CHW's reproductive health policies first came into question in September, when CHW bought out Columbia/HCA and became southern Santa Clara County's only hospital operator. San Francisco-based CHW operates 46 not-for-profit hospitals in Arizona, California and Nevada.
Argument Falling on 'Deaf Ears'
Santa Clara County Supervisor Donald Gage has made clear his intentions to support CHW. He noted that the board's approval "is based on the organization's ability to pay. It has nothing to do with the organization's philosophy." Bob Polzoni, CHW's vice president of marketing and communications, stated that the system will not change its policy against tubal ligations, noting, "People will probably show up [at the hearing] but we're not necessarily concerned about it. A hospital is not required to provide all services" (Harris, 10/18).