Letters to the Editor

Some changes have been made in services | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

    - Bainbridge Island Review photo
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To the editor:

How are our county’s medical services doing? March 25, 2014 was the deadline for hospitals to post their Reproductive Health Care, End of Life Care, and Non-Discrimination policies on their websites to meet the WA Department of Health’s new transparency requirements. Now that Harrison Medical Center is affiliated with the Franciscan Health System what has changed so far?

The website has a hard-to-find “Select Policies” section under the tab “Patients and Visitors” that describes three policies: admission, non-discrimination, and end of life. I believe these policies have not changed with the merger, and they seem the same as other hospitals.

I had to use the “Contact Us” section to ask the official how their reproductive health care policies had changed regarding pregnancy care.  She reported no change in treatment of ectopic pregnancies “that endanger life or fertility,” meaning that a patient would be treated there with a therapeutic abortion if needed.

I do not know if this reassurance has been tested or if other emergent problems of pregnancy would also be treated.

End-of-life treatment has definitely changed in the Harrison Medical Center system. This has been denied recently by a former chair of their Board of Trustees (Bainbridge Review, March 21) and it does not appear on the website. The hospital’s policy of refusal to participate has never been a problem, because over 90 percent of people who use the Washington Death with Dignity law do so at home.

In July of last year articles in the Central Kitsap Reporter said the CEO, Scott Bosch, promised no changes would be made in available services. Then, on Nov. 13, Mr. Bosch reported in an email to Compassion & Choice’s Director that “Up until our affiliation with FHS, our employed physicians were allowed to write the prescription for the drugs. This changed Aug. 1, 2013 and HMC employed physicians are no longer able to write these scripts while on duty as an employed doc.”

This means that Harrison’s community primary care doctors and specialists are no longer able to help their patients obtain the medications for use of their legal choice of Death with Dignity.  Compassion & Choices, the free service in Washington for assisting people with the Death with Dignity law, now has a much reduced source of physicians to help clients find the two needed for obtaining a prescription.

How much will the Catholic Bishops’ ethical and religious directives affect our medical treatment in the future?

RICHARD M. BAKER

Bainbridge Island

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