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Commentary: Hoag is committed to women's health

May 24, 2013|By Robert T. Braithwaite and Gary McKitterick | By Robert T. Braithwaite and Gary McKitterick

The recently completed affiliation between Hoag Hospital and St. Joseph Health (SJH) was the result of a thoughtful process by both organizations and their boards of directors.

Our combined purpose was to create a collaborative network of care — known as Covenant Health Network — to enhance service capabilities to our Orange County community as we look ahead to the vast array of health care needs that will be required. Certainly, there were, and are, complexities in maintaining respect for the heritage of two faith-based organizations, one Catholic, one Presbyterian.

Women's health is an extremely important issue to the Hoag Board of Directors and administration. We took a proactive approach to the preservation and continuation of health services for women. In fact, the affiliation agreement recognizes the creation of a new governance structure for the Women's Health Institute that operates separately from the governance of Covenant Health Network.

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It may, therefore, seem incongruous to some that Hoag recently announced our decision to discontinue elective abortions at Hoag.

So why would Hoag, after working diligently to preserve health services for women, discontinue elective abortions?

And why now?

As one might expect with such a highly-charged issue, some people in the community have expressed concern. Unfortunately, some important facts are being clouded by misinformation, and we believe it is important to clarify how the decision was made.

As we pursued the affiliation, we recognized the sensitivity of this issue and others, and undertook a comprehensive, clinically led, evaluation of our women's health services. Although consideration of the affiliation prompted the timing of our assessment, it should be made clear that St. Joseph Health did not pressure Hoag to take any specific action.

Our analysis revealed that approximately 100 elective abortions have been performed at Hoag facilities by fewer than 10 physicians in each of the past two years. The requirement for clinical excellence goes beyond the medical procedure itself and requires a full complement of services.

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