The short term consequences of the proposed affiliation between University of Washington Medical Center and Peace Health would benefit the local hospital on San Juan Island. The long-term consequences could have a negative effect on health care state-wide.
"The University of Washington is looking to expand its teaching programs into more PeaceHealth sites," said Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Peter Adler. "We will be providing mentorship and oversight."
At some point PIMC will be included in the teaching program which will add to the availability of providers at the facility.
Adler confirmed that medical students will have to abide by the PeaceHealth policies when in its facilities. Peacehealth is a catholic healthcare ministry and follows the Bishop Ethical and Religious Directives according to its website.
This would seem to provide restrictions to medical students education. For example how ectopic pregnancies are treated. According to the Bishops Ethical and Religious Directives treatment of the life-threatening condition is delayed until removal of the fallopian tube is called for. This endangers the woman's life and reduces or in many cases ends the woman's chances of ever having children.
"Don't paint all Catholic hospitals with a broad brush," said Adler. "PeaceHealth has its own ethical guidelines, we use our own interpretation." In PeaceHealth facilities, ectopic pregancies are considered a "medical necessity" according to Adler. Direct abortions are allowed for medical necessities. However ectopic pregnancies are specifically called out in the ERDs as not being one.
At a 2011, San Juan County Hospital District Board Meeting (the elected commission which ran Inter Island Medical Center and still runs San Juan Island EMS) Sister Kathleen speaking via conference telephone responded to a similar statement by PeaceHealth staff about PeaceHealth using its own interpretations. She said, "We will not disobey the Bishop."
In the May 22, 2013 phone interview with San Juan Islander, Adler said he didn't want people to think UW students medical education would be restricted. They also rotate through other facilities besides PeaceHealth's, he said.
Concern has mounted about the lack of secular facilities in the region as more and more hospitals in Western Washington merge or consider merging with religiously-affiliated healthcare organizations. ACLU POWER POINT
While UW will obtain more an expanding teaching program, PeaceHealth's benefit in the affiliation will be a "preferred provider-type relationship with UW. Patients can be sent to UW for burn treatment and other type of specialized care not available through PeaceHealth. The relationship between the two organizations will enable the patient's care to be provided seamlessly. "It creates a platform for very complex care," said Adler.