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Hospital emergency

"Hospital emergency" Continued...

Issue: "Fighting poverty," March 13, 2010

The Catholic Health Association has urged healthcare reform, since it would mean previously uninsured patients could pay for their care. But the CHA has also said that it does not support the federal funding of abortion that is in prominent proposals, leaving it in a quandary: mission or money? Bob Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said as long as the bill makes abortion a federally mandated benefit, it will be "a direct threat" to the hospitals' mission: "This would directly compromise their ethical responsibilities and put them in a very, very difficult position." He advocates restructuring Medicare and Medicaid to look more like private insurance, saying that charitable hospitals would actually survive better in a more competitive environment: "A lot of people like these hospitals. They're well-established, they've got a good reputation. They've got a caring staff. They're well-known."

Before its troubles, St. Vincent's was trying to attract more business with an ill-timed $1.63 billion reconstruction proposal. But by this February, it had laid off 300 people, negotiated with the unions for 10 percent temporary pay cuts, and slashed non-union salaries by up to 25 percent. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning took perhaps the largest pay cut. He'd received $600,000 for doing publicity for the hospital but declined future payments when he heard about the hospital's woes.

After the priest's prayer and the goodbyes to St. Vincent's staff, Duggan-usually a speedy driver-inched down Sixth Avenue toward home. Shelby looked down at her baby and thought, "OK, here we go. She is now completely under our care." Since then, she has written letters to public officials and raised funds to try to save St. Vincent's Hospital so that the doctors and nurses who nurtured her first baby-"a miracle"-can, if need be, care for her baby again.

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