Fifth Largest Hospital Chain Pares Religious Ties
Faced with the need to expand beyond the West Coast and to either affiliate or merge with other organizations, Catholic Healthcare West is ceasing its governing board’s relationship with the Catholic church and changing its name to Dignity Health.
The fifth largest hospital system in the nation, the 40-hospital system is revenue wise and seeks to triple in size to gain a national purchase. However, sources say, restrictions mandated by its ties to the church have hobbled its efforts, especially at its 15 secular facilities. Mergers have collapsed, and some affiliations have only succeeded thanks to unusual agreements.
Dignity says the system’s Catholic hospitals will continue to follow church directives and have relationships with the religious orders that governed the system. Those orders will retain final authority if Dignity wants to sell the hospital. Kaiser Health News says this change is more dramatic than those affected at other Catholic hospital systems.