Friday, July 2, 2010

The Future Catholic Identity and Mission of Caritas Christi Hospitals

“The Stewardship Agreement memorializes Steward’s commitment to maintain the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi Healthcare system and its fidelity to the mission of the Church’s healthcare ministry.”

Father J. Bryan Hehir, the archdiocese’s health and social services secretary, said that the ethical and religious directives provide the framework by which Catholic health care operates in the United States.

This is a substantive and structural commitment by the archdiocese and Steward to operate this hospital system by the religious and moral directives of the Catholic Church,” said Father J. Bryan Hehir.

I promised some thoughts on Fr. Hehir's hooey about the Catholic identity of Catholic Hospitals that I'm a little late with....

I wanted to get out a draft of some thoughts before the weekend which is below.  I will tighten up these thoughts some time before the weekend ends.

So long as the Stewardship Agreement is in effect, the hospitals will be operated in accordance with the moral, ethical and social teachings of the Church - essentially interpreted solely and exclusively by the RCAB.

Section 3 (page 6) - deals with social dimension of Catholic identity -- incluldes free and accessible care to the poor, "just labor and public advocacy" in improving access and quality healthcare;

Section 4 - moral dimension - again interpreted solely by RCAB

This appears to be carried out by the appointment of an  "RCAB representative".    Steward appoints what is called a "Vice President for Mission" and must obtain the written approval "of the RCAB or RCAB representative (if one is designated) or any other RCAB designee.   RCAB can terminate for bonafide reason.

They've appointed an individual named James Corbett (no diligence has been done here by Catholics on this individual yet)

While we have some obvious problems with the Cardinal's (and his appointees) judgment - up until this point, it all appears to be going in the right direction, right?

Then we come to page 8, section 4.4  which is labeled "Ethics Committee"

Steward will cause each of the hospitals to maintain an Ethics Committee which will have responsibility for managing day-to-day monitoring and observance of the religious directives and other ethics-related matters.  They put in a "system-wide" ethics committee to oversee the Ethics Committees of each hospital.   One ethicist employed by RCAB "with direct training and experience in field of medical ethics, will, after consultation with the (Steward's) Vice President for Mission, be appointed solely by the RCAB" (who shall consider in good faith any nominations for such positions provided by the Vice President for Mission)..."

 "solely" by the RCAB" neither needs or warrants any consultation with Steward--further,not only are the credentials of Steward's people nominating the ethicist unknown, this puts an individual at the top of this ethical pyramid the power of the moral justification.   The System wide "ethics committee" consists of the "ethicist", the Steward Appointed VP of Mission and the RCAB representative "if one is designated"

Is it me, or is the RCAB potentially out of the loop here? At best, they are trumped by Steward at the top of this pyramid. 

It then goes on to say that Steward shall "reimburse the RCAB" on the monthly basis for out of pocket cost for compensating the ethicist, along with his or her benefits and an administrative assistant to the ethicist. 

Who then is the actual employer of the ethicist?

Don't worry though -- it goes on to say that the RCAB will check in at least annually to make sure religious directives are being carried out properly.  They'll be right on top of it.

4.7 then deals with civil law compliance which to me is the golden parachute.  I would urge you to review.

There also appears to be an parallel governance committee on Catholic identity which is fleshed out in the  Governance Agreement

Page  - 16 re:  the "Catholic Mission Committee"

Responsible for promoting understanding and implementation of mission, philosophy and Gospel values.

Comprised of 2 members of the board of governors, the CEO and 6 members appointed by the Board of Governors.  Additionally the Board of Governors may appoint such other individuals as they deem appropriate to serve as advisers  to the Mission/Catholic Identity Committee.

If anyone has any thought about who is actually in control of the mission and Catholic Identity of Caritas, please do enlighten me.

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