Why are PeaceHealth Employees and SJI Hospital District Members Lying?

In the wake of the WA AG opinion that hospital districts which fund maternity care must also fund other reproductive health services on a substantially equivalent basis, the San Juan hospital taxing district seems to be doubling down on the assertion that “No maternity services are provided at PeaceHealth and no maternity services were provided or funded at IMC either.”

The motive is simple.  PeaceHealth gets 95-97% of taxpayer funds available for health care services and has a 50-year contract with the district, and apparently, neither PeaceHealth nor the district believe that those funds should be used for maternity care or other reproductive health services.

It’s a crazy, ridiculous position to take just on its face, and it becomes even crazier when you realize that people who KNOW what services were available at Inter Island Medical Center are misrepresenting the true scope of those services.

In fact, until her untimely death in 2007, the medical director for Inter Island Medical Center was a female physician with a publicly stated interest in women’s health.  It’s troubling that any of the doctors, staff, or hospital district board members who KNOW that the set of services listed below were available would claim now that they were not, and it becomes one more thing for public officials (and the courts) to consider moving forward.

The AG’s opinion was very clear that in addition to actual delivery, any prenatal, postpartum or well baby services are also to be considered “maternity services.”  The deliberate focus by PeaceHealth and hospital district board members on “delivery services” is designed to obscure the fact that crucial prenatal and postpartum services were regularly available at InterIsland Medical Center and should be available at PeaceHealth.

For the record, I’m including a list of the services that were known to be available at Inter Island Medical Center prior to the deal with PeaceHealth, several of which would easily be considered maternity services under the AG’s opinion.  For example, an adult exam that includes testing for conditions that might result in pregnancy complications is considered prenatal care by the WA Department of Health.

Keep an mind that the following is a list of just SOME of the services provided at Inter Island Medical Center prior to the deal with PeaceHealth.   (Special thanks to my friends in the patient and physician community for providing me with such helpful notes).  For easier reference, I’ve put an asterisk by ones that likely included some type of maternity service:

  • Preventive medicine*
  • Well child and adult exams*
  • Women’s gynecological health*
  • Newborn care & family planning*
  • Birth control counseling & support*
  • Coordinated prenatal care*
  • Newborn and pediatric care*
  • Circumcisions
  • Vasectomies

Procedures available by appointment included:

  • Mammograms & ultrasound exams
  • Lesion removal & biopsy
  • Cardiac monitoring & stress testing
  • Endoscopy
  • Colposcopy & endometrial biopsy

You could also get an appointment with a visiting specialist, none of whom were subject to religious restrictions.

  • Podiatry
  • Obstetrics & gynecology
  • Midwifery
  • Ear, nose, throat & audiology

Again, the above is an incomplete list, but it gives some idea of the scope of services that were available at the publicly funded Interisland Medical Center prior to the deal with PeaceHealth.

Hopefully, by publishing this list publicly, more people will understand the legal contortions now happening on the part of PeaceHealth employees and hospital district members, all of which are designed to circumvent the will of the people when it comes to enforcement of Washington’s Reproductive Privacy Act.

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3 thoughts on “Why are PeaceHealth Employees and SJI Hospital District Members Lying?

  1. Frances

    According to the Attorney General’s statement: “Initiative 120, approved by Washington voters in 1991, declares that residents have “a fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control or abortion,” and it prohibits the state from discriminating against the exercise of these rights in the “regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.” It also requires that, if the state (or a part of the state such as a public hospital district) provides maternity care service or information, it must also provide “substantially equivalent benefits, services or information” regarding contraception and abortion. ”
    If this is so, then how has it been the case that for the past however many years Peacehealth has allowed obstetric services and maternity care at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham without providing the equivalent benefits and services described above? I understand that PeaceIsland as a new facility allows this issue to be addressed de novo. But does it not logically follow that this provision of the WA state constitution has been and continues to be violated? Sure Planned Parenthood fills this niche in Whatcom County, but this is not the same facility providing the services and we have already seen what the Bishops via Peacehealth tried to do it with regard to lab services last year.

    Reply
    1. catholicwatcher Post author

      There are lots of issues to be sorted through. The WA State Constitution says: “No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment..”

      The separate issue has to do with the Reproductive Privacy Act, and if state dollars are being used to support maternity services at PeaceHealth, then substantially equivalent resources need to be applied to other reproductive health services. It’s the Law.

      Reply
  2. KAC

    Another elegantly reasoned and informative posting! Given the roster of services provided (most of which constitute the fundamentals of primary care and internal medicine), I suppose the facility ought to shut down now since these are “not offered” by PeaceHealth practitioners. I’ll look for these newly unemployed health care “providers” soliciting for money on cardboard placards on the freeway off-ramps since they’ll have no meaningful source of income from their current employers..who do not offer these services!

    Reply

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