LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Doctors at Louisville's University Hospital worry that Catholic health rules will affect patient care under a new partnership with KentuckyOne Health.
KentuckyOne's majority owner is Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. KentuckyOne and the university have said that the hospital's policies for reproductive and end-of-life care will not be affected by the new partnership. But staff and physicians are being asked to "respect" Catholic health directives.
The exceptions are the hospital's pharmacy and its Center for Women and Infants, which remain under the management of the University Medical Center.
Sheila Reynertson, who tracks secular-religious hospital mergers, told The Courier-Journal, "We're glad to see the Center for Women and Infants and hospital pharmacy will be independent of the directives. That's great. But for the rest of the building, that language about respecting the (directives) puts doctors in a difficult position."
For instance, cancer doctors may wonder about prescribing birth control to prevent pregnancy, she said.
Catholic directives include a ban on sterilization, abortions, and euthanasia and say Catholic health institutions can't "promote or condone contraceptive practices."
Asked whether Catholic directives must be followed in non-UMC-controlled areas of the hospital, Dr. David Dunn, U of L executive vice president for health affairs, said "it's not a yes-or-no answer."
But Gary Mans, spokesman for the U of L Health Sciences Center, said he doesn't believe doctors and staff will feel constrained by the directives.
"As has been said multiple times, the relationship between the physician and patient is paramount," Mans said. "After full discussions of care options, the decisions made following these discussions will be carried out."
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