Jim Barnhart, Chief Administrative Officer of PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center (PIMC) sent a press release Thursday, August 29, 2012 outlining healthcare services PIMC allows related to reproductive health. The limitations are due to the beliefs held by the organization's sponsors and founders - the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.
Reproductive Health: The PeaceHealth Perspective
PeaceHealth physicians and health care providers respect the organization’s heritage and its policies which apply to beginning and end-of-life issues while strongly supporting the organization’s mission of healing and compassionate care of all patients.
The following questions and answers provide information on how reproductive health is addressed at PeaceHealth facilities.
Because these are sensitive issues which all at PeaceHealth take very seriously, our staff includes professionally credentialed ethicists who are available when requested to work with individual patients, families, and their doctors to help meet special needs and circumstances.
Does PeaceHealth allow procedures such as vasectomies, D&Cs, and abortions in its facilities?
Vasectomies and tubal ligations are performed at PeaceHealth facilities when, in private consultations between a patient and a physician, it is determined that such a procedure is medically indicated. Abortions are only performed in PeaceHealth facilities when a woman’s life is in danger or in the case of an imminently lethal fetal anomaly; they are not performed on demand. Dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures are performed when medically indicated (for example, after a miscarriage), but not for the purpose of voluntarily ending a pregnancy. Patients requesting abortions or D&Cs for other than extreme medical need would be referred to an agency such as Planned Parenthood to discuss other resources and options.
What is the policy on referrals? Would medical records be transferred to another hospital or organization for treatments not sanctioned at PeaceHealth?
PeaceHealth does not refer directly to providers who perform procedures prohibited at PeaceHealth facilities (i.e. abortion, physician-assisted suicide). However, PeaceHealth does refer to Planned Parenthood or other appropriate health care agencies for assistance in identifying a provider.
PeaceHealth will provide the appropriate patient records, in accord with HIPAA regulations, to health care providers offering services not sanctioned at PeaceHealth, just as it does for all other referrals to physicians and hospitals outside the PeaceHealth system.
Would contraceptive prescriptions be made available to patients requesting them, and could they be filled in a PeaceHealth pharmacy?
Decisions concerning family planning, including contraception, are made privately between patients and their doctors; contraceptive prescriptions may be provided, and they can be filled at a pharmacy operated by PeaceHealth. Emergency contraception (also known as Plan B or “Morning-After Pill”) is offered as medically appropriate for cases of sexual assault. RU486, an abortion-inducing drug, will not be provided by a PeaceHealth facility.
Do doctors in PeaceHealth facilities include a full range of family planning options when counseling patients?
PeaceHealth does not dictate what doctors may say to their patients. Doctors undertaking family planning counseling may offer a wide range of options; however, PeaceHealth does not condone abortion as a contraceptive (family planning) procedure. Physicians practicing in PeaceHealth facilities are expected to comply with PeaceHealth policy regarding abortion.
Can PeaceHealth facilities be used by groups from the community for health education classes which include reproductive health topics?
PeaceHealth is supportive of community health care education and allows use of its facilities for many kinds of educational programming including, for example, health care policy debates, public forums to discuss health issues, and classes focusing on treatment of specific health conditions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It would not allow use of PeaceHealth premises by organizations promoting single points of view for purposes of persuading audiences to a specific philosophical position or health care treatment, such as abortion. PeaceHealth welcomes and encourages community dialogue which gives voice to and values a variety of opinions.