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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Know your hospitals!

When we need emergency medical care, the closest hospital is the best one to go to, right?  That's not necessarily true, particularly if you're a woman.  Many hospitals have religious affiliations, and some will even consider risking your life to preserve that relationship.

Catholic hospitals have a "no abortions ever" policy.  So, if you are pregnant (or even suspect you might be) I would avoid a Catholic hospital.  They might not help you with your life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, will not abort in order to save the mother's life, or even administer treatments that might be harmful to the fetus.  Recently, St. Joe's lost its Catholic affiliation because a woman with pulmonary hypertension needed to terminate her 11 week old fetus to save her life.  The woman was 27, had 4 children already, and would have died, taking the fetus with her, if she had not gotten the inexplicably controversial abortion.  A courageous nun approved the procedure, and was excommunicated for it.

In addition, you should know that your doctor's personal ethics are not enough if you are admitted to a religiously affiliated hospital.  In a recent study of 1000 ob/gyns, a third of them reported a conflict with the hospital because of religiously based policies on treatments.  More than half of them have these problems in Catholic hospitals.

Is this really health care?  If you don't want someone else's morals enforced on your body, I would avoid religiously affiliated hospitals, if possible.  I would also make certain that the doctor you have chosen has privileges at a hospital without religious affiliations.

If possible, we should boycott Catholic affiliated "health care" and make it known that we, the women of this country, are worth more than our ability to incubate a fetus.  I will no longer knowingly allow my money to go to a church that values its "morals" over my life, or that values its reputation over the suffering of sexually abused children by its own appointed authority figures.

It is not readily obvious whether or not your chosen hospital has a religious affiliation.  Most of the time, even the hospital staff don't understand what a religious affiliation is.  They assured me that they had chaplains of every major religion and sect, but had no idea what I meant when I asked if the hospital itself was affiliated.  Apparently you need to contact hospital administrators to get this kind of information.  I have to admit, I'm a little suspicious that they might be making the information difficult to obtain on purpose.  Perhaps the Catholic organizations are afraid to lose business to people like me?  Maybe the non-religiously affiliated hospitals are afraid that if they highlight their secular (rather than "moral") model for health care, crazy religious people will go out of their way to go elsewhere?

Here is a list of the hospitals and organizations I called and/or could research myself on the internet:

Tempe St. Luke's: no religious affiliation
Scottsdale Healthcare: no religious affiliation and no one knew what I was talking about
Banner Healthcare: no religious affiliation and no one knew what I was talking about
Chandler Regional Medical Center: Catholic
Mercy Gilbert Medical Center: Catholic
St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix: Affiliation in question; was Catholic.  I'd avoid.
Barrow Neurological Institute: Catholic
Huger Mercy Living Center: Catholic
Children's Rehabilitation Services (CRS) Clinic: Catholic
Desert Ridge Outpatient Surgery Center: Catholic
Craig Tuberculosis Clinic: Catholic
CHW Urgent Care in Queen Creek: Catholic
CHW Urgent Care in Ahwatukee: Catholic
CHW Urgent Care in Gilbert: Catholic
Sun Lakes Laboratory: Catholic
Warner Park Outpatient Surgery Center: Catholic
Arizona Orthopedic Surgical Center: Catholic
Arizona Heart Hospital/Institute: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Arrowhead Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Maryvale Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
North Peoria Emergency Center: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Paradise Valley Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Phoenix Baptist Hospital & Medical Center: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
West Vally Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Mayo Clinic Phoenix: no religious affiliation
Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital: Catholic
Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital: Catholic
Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital: Catholic
Carondelet Heart and Vascular Institute: Catholic
Carondelet Medical Mall (both locations): Catholic

Carondelet Health Care (Tucson) is Catholic.  I'd avoid anything with the name Carondelet in it.
CHW is Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Health West) so anything with the CHW logo is Catholic affiliated.*
Banner Health, and all its clinics, hospitals, labs and pharmacies are not religiously affiliated.
Abrazo Health is not religiously affiliated, although it took 3 phone calls and several transfers to find someone who knew what this meant.

* It has been brought to my attention that Dignity Health, which was formerly Catholic Health West, has stated that the health care facilities they have acquired which were not religiously affiliated will remain that way.  Having said that, I will also state that it is difficult enough to find out if a hospital or other health care facility is owned by a Catholic or non-religious health care network.  It is far more difficult to find out what affiliation that facility had under its previous owner.  I, personally, will be avoiding anything owned by Dignity Health so as to hedge my bets that I will receive the care I need, regardless of what is considered "moral" by someone completely unqualified to make health care decisions.

If anyone sees a mistake on this list, or knows of the affiliations of a hospital in Arizona I did not list, please let me know in the comments section.  I'll gladly correct/update my information.


  1. Thanks for putting together this awesome list! That's a lot of research!

    It might be important to note that Catholic Healthcare West has just changed their name to Dignity Health. According to their website (, this allows them to acquire non-Catholic hospitals. Their hospitals that are currently Catholic will remain Catholic and the new ones they acquire that are non-Catholic will, in theory, remain non-Catholic. This seems like it is going to make it more difficult for women to know whether or not their hospital is Catholic affiliated.

    I had both my boys at Chandler Regional and was very happy with the hospital and its practices - though I am a liberal non-Catholic. So many of the non-religious hospitals around here are run by Banner Healthcare and I have heard many bad things about them, so I was happy to go with a CHW hospital. Luckily I was not in a position where termination was necessary though.

    Thanks again for putting this together Sarah, great work! And I'm enjoying your blog!


  2. Thanks for the update on CHW. I'm glad you had a good experience at Chandler Regional. I have had a negative experience at Scottsdale Osborne (a non-religiously affiliated hospital) as well as terrible one in the ER of Chandler Regional (a Catholic hospital.) I think your experience is mostly dependent on the doctors and staff who are in at the time. Hospital policies tend to be secondary. I think it's super important, though, to be aware that your life or quality of life is not necessarily top priority if you are in a religiously affiliated hospital. Going there for knee surgery is probably fine (although I'd prefer than none of MY money be filtered down into the Catholic church) but I'd NEVER go there if I were a woman with stomach pains or if I was having a baby.

    The article on NPR (which I linked above for information about the ob/gyn survey) explains that in some Catholic hospitals women have had to go under the knife twice for a C-section due to their religious policies. How crazy and irresponsible is that?

    Thanks for the encouragement Sydni!

  3. Banner Health resulted from the merger of Samaritan Health System and Lutheran Health System. Sounds like religious affiliation to me - those guys don't give it up ever!