Panel looks at hospital mergers

A panel discussion on Washington hospital mergers will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 11 in the community room at the Poulsbo Public Library.

Open to the public, the forum is hosted as a public service by the North Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Church.

Panelists include Dr. Dick Baker of Compassion and Choices Washington; Leah Rutman of Seattle ACLU; Sheila Reynertson of Mergerwatch (New York City); and Liz Elwart of Planned Parenthood.

Organizers of the forum said hospital mergers don’t typically come to mind as threats to reproductive health, but because Catholic hospitals do not provide certain reproductive health services, including contraception, abortion, tubal ligation, and vasectomies, a wave of mergers between secular and even public hospitals and Catholic-affiliated hospitals in Washington state may be just that. Exclusions also include some end-of-life choices, such as Death with Dignity. In Kitsap County, just such a merger in 2013 brought Harrison Hospital under the umbrella of the Franciscan Health System, part of the nationwide Catholic Health Care System.

For more information, contact or call 360-394-3945.

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