Dignity Health intends to restrict aid in dying in Ashland

If Ashland Community Hospital is acquired by Dignity Health, the hospital will restrict medical practice in the areas of contraception, sterilization, abortion and aid in dying.

At two meetings in Ashland, September 14 and 15, attendees were confused by the hospital’s policy position, as described by ACH’s Mark Marchetti in the prior day’s Ashland Daily Tidings.

“Ashland Community Hospital officials insist the end-of-life care its patients receive will not change if a partnership is formed with Dignity Health.

“Physicians at ACH can prescribe patients who qualify under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act medication that induces death upon ingesting, said Mark Marchetti, ACH chief executive officer. “We have no policies that dictate the issue one way or another,” Marchetti said. “We certainly don’t monitor our physicians’ prescribing.”"

At both meetings, Carol Bailey of Dignity Health told Ashlanders, “not on our dime” when asked if a future Ashland Community Hospital would allowing physicians to prescribe for aid in dying.

Marchetti had insisted the end-of-life care ACH patients receive will not change if a partnership is formed with Dignity Health.

“If the comments I made concerning the issue were not clear, I apologize,” Marchetti said Friday. “From a practical perspective, nothing is going to change.”

“I heard it loud and clear,” said City Council member Carol Voisin. “Death with dignity and abortion are serious issues that the community thinks our hospital should be able to address and perform.”

Dignity Health has undergone a significant rebranding in the past year Dignity’s non-Catholic hospitals are required to follow a Statement of Common Values which rejects the possibility of aid in dying, “Death is a sacred part of life’s journey; we will intentionally neither hasten nor delay it. For this reason, physician-assisted suicide is not part of Dignity Health’s mission.”

“As far as loosening it, don’t hold out hope,” Bailey answered. “We have our feet in Catholic mud, there is no denying it.”

About 80 people attended both forums, peppering both the Marchetti and Dignity Health staff with questions about cost-savings measures, local influence on policy, past financial decisions, governance, as well as reproductive choice and aid in dying.

“I do not want my community’s hospital to partner with someone who does not support Death with Dignity,” said Sharry Teague, 70, of Ashland, during Friday’s forum.

READ – End-of-life care reassurance as ACH considers its Dignity deal, Partnership wouldn’t change patients’ rights, CEO claims, Ashland Daily Tidings September 13, 2012
READ – Abortion, physician-assisted suicide dominate forum, Some are concerned over potential changes to Ashland Community Hospital under Dignity Health, Ashland Daily Tidings September 15, 2012

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