SANTA CLARA COUNTY: Board Approves CHW’s Bond Request
Despite protests and a two hour "heated debate" over the separation of church and state, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve Catholic Healthcare West's (CHW) request for $150 million in tax-free bonds, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. At issue is the recent purchase of South Valley Community Hospital by CHW who immediately banned contraception services, abortions, tubal ligations and fertility treatments at the facility. Renamed St. Louise Regional Medical Center, the facility is the only hospital serving Gilroy and Morgan Hill. Opponents of the bond measure contend that the CHW policy forces area women either to "accept Catholic health care dictates" or drive over 25 miles to another hospital. They urged the board not to support the bond measure unless CHW agreed to provide contraception and tubal ligations at St. Louise -- which the health care chain allows in 18 of its 48 hospitals under a "community model." However, CHW officials argued that the "community model" only applies to hospitals that have merged rather than hospitals the chain has purchased. CHW spokesperson Wade Rose said that without the funding -- $15 million of which would fund the hospital's purchase -- St. Louise would be forced to close. Over 100 people attended a meeting on the matter yesterday. Many speakers at the meeting supported the bond measure, asserting that the community's need for a full service hospital supersedes the needs of women seeking reproductive services. Others called CHW's position "blackmail" (Gaura, 11/10).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.