Secular health care in BC
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We, the undersigned, petition the Government of British Columbia, the secular province, to wrest control of publically funded health care facilities from religious organizations as these, due to their archaic belief system, do not offer reproductive and end of life choices commensurate with modern pluralism of belief systems or medical requirements. There are eight publicly funded hospitals administered by Roman Catholic bodies in British Columbia, and approximately one hundred in Canada. One third of all Ontario Hospitals are administered by the Roman Catholic Church. The morning after pill, unavailable in Catholic hospitals. Catholic hospitals refuse to treat ectopic pregnancies that is medical emergency. MDs and RNs who work in religiously administered hospitals are obliged to sign an agreement to the effect that they will abide by the tenets of the religion involved.
Below is a letter to the editor of the 'Comox Valley Record, written by Dr. James Halvorson years ago but still relevant though things have somewhat improved:
"We in the Comox Valley still have a religious hospital, the major difference being that all operations, including even pastoral care, are now completely funded by taxpayers, not church goers, to the tune of $40,000,000 annually. The Catholic church, however, still runs the show, with, in my experience, a bewildering degree of autonomy, lack of transparency and lack of accountability. Of the 15 board members who run the hospital, 13 are appointed by the Bishop. To my knowledge none of these appointees have any medical, nursing or large corporate management experience.
This structure affects you, the citizens of our region, in a number of ways. It deprives you of having any effective avenue to influence fundamental hospital direction, policy or programs. All physicians wishing to serve our community must sign agreement that they will follow the Catholic Code of Ethics. By extension, you, their patients are agreeing to do this too. Among other policies it specifically prohibits offering morning after pills to rape victims, or anyone else; prohibits the prescription of birth control pills, condoms, vasectomies or tubal ligations, prohibits in vitro fertilization and prohibits the treatment of ectopic pregnancies.It may well be making it harder for you to find a family physician or specialist to see. The first three full time emergency physicians to join St. Joseph's Hospital have all since resigned. All had issues with the structure and the administration's unresponsive, autocratic management style. Overall, 22 physicians have left St Joseph's for other hospitals over the last few years. This compares rather poorly with your neighboring community of Powell River, which lost only one physician during the same time frame. The specialist and other backup I can call on to serve you in our Emergency Department is considerably less now than in 1990 when I joined St.Joseph's. I believe the status is not resulting in optimal care for our community. I believe it is unreasonable to cede control of our only acute care facility to a single religious organization. I also cannot change it. However, you can.
Jim Halvorson Former Director of Emergency Services, St Joseph's
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