Groups to Mobilize Community Against Proposed Partnership with CHRISTUS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 5, 2008 CONTACT: Whitney Potter (505) 266 5915 ext. 1003
SANTA FE—A coalition of community organizations on Wednesday announced its opposition to the proposed partnership between St. Vincent Hospital and CHRISTUS Health after St. Vincent Hospital refused to share details of the partnership agreement, which they claim would protect family planning and end-of-life care at the hospital.
“Because of St. Vincent Hospital’s ongoing refusal to be transparent and to provide written, legally binding assurances to the community, we must oppose this partnership,” Diane Wood, director of the Northern Regional Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
The Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWWLC), another coalition member, agreed.
“The only promises that matter are those in the final contract between CHRISTUS, St. Vincent and SupportCo,” said SWWLC Executive Director, Jane Wishner. “Promises on a Web site, in a press release, at a public meeting or in a letter to advocates are not binding; what matters is what the parties agree to in writing with each other.”
Over the past month, the coalition – which includes the ACLU of New Mexico, Southwest Women’s Law Center, NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico, Compassion & Choices, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Center, Equality New Mexico, The MergerWatch Project, and The National Women’s Law Center –  met with the St. Vincent Hospital Board of Directors, held a community meeting, and gathered nearly 700 signatures from concerned community members all in an effort to get St. Vincent Hospital to share its partnership agreement with the community.
The coalition formed over concerns that a partnership between St. Vincent Hospital and CHRISTUS, a Dallas-based Catholic health cooperation, would compromise family planning and end-of-life care at the Santa Fe hospital because they would be required to follow the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives. Hospital officials have repeatedly told coalition members that those services would be provided, but have refused to share the specifics.
“St. Vincent Hospital and CHRISTUS Health want us to trust them that family planning services will still be provided under the proposed partnership,” said Heather Brewer, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico, “but I am more comfortable trusting women, their families and their physicians to decide which health care options they want and need.”
Coalition partners now plan to undertake a public education campaign to increase public opposition to the partnership.
“We are now urging Northern New Mexicans to write letters to the board members of St. Vincent Hospital to voice their concerns,” Wood said.  “We will be working with the community to educative and build opposition to this merger.”