OSF purchased Carle Clinic in Bloomington, Illinois. Since September 13 the facility is now part of OSF and the forty new OSF physician employees in Bloomington can now prescribe oral contraceptives.
When OSF Corporate Ethicist Joe Piccione was hired by OSF in 1993 he told me this summer that he did NOT know that he was to help craft a policy with The Catholic Diocese of Peoria that would allow OSF physicians to write for oral contraceptives.
Here is the article from the Journal Star archives written in 1995 which describes Mr. Piccione's new job at OSF.
Make up your own mind on what Mr. Piccione knew and what he didn't....
Journal Star (Peoria, IL)
May 7, 1995
GRAY AREAS ARE CORPORATE ETHICIST'S SPECIALTY--ONE OF HIS JOBS: TO RECONCILE CATHOLICISM AND FAMILY PLANNING
Editor's note: "In the Heartland" is a weekly feature profiling folks who do their living, working and dreaming in central Illinois without a lot of fanfare. These are neighbors and co-workers all with a unique story to tell.
PEORIA -- From his first day of work here on June 1, 1993, Joseph J. Piccione felt the urgency and knew the dilemma.
His task: search for an ethical way, under Catholic doctrine, that the growing number of doctors employed by Saint Francis Medical Center and its six sister hospitals could prescribe birth-control pills.
Many of the doctors provided that family planning service before they sold their private practices to the hospitals, and they wanted to continue even though the Roman Catholic system opposes artificial contraception.
Piccione, a New Jersey native who holds the unique job of corporate ethicist for St. Francis' parent company, OSF Healthcare System, knew that unhappy physicians could spell disaster for OSF's developing integrated health-care delivery network. Doctors could leave it or refuse to join.
Piccione worked with others at OSF to develop a policy that satisfied doctors and one that the system's owners, an order of nuns, could live with -- reluctantly.
The plan broke ground nationally in the Catholic health- care community and reflected Piccione's positive and comprehensive outlook on ethics and life in general.
"People have a sense that ethics is something that happens when you're in trouble -- that it's a negative, line-drawing activity," said Piccione, a soft-spoken but confident and articulate man who will celebrate his 43rd birthday on Monday.
"Ethics is planning to do the good in a good way," he said. "Ethics is something that pervades our activities."
The work of sorting out all the ethical issues involved in birth-control required him to draw on the many aspects of his Christian faith and training as a lawyer, philosopher, national policy analyst and student of Catholic principles.
Through an intricate set of bureaucratic rules, St. Francis' primary-care doctors can issue birth-control pill prescriptions after explaining to patients that they are doing so under their "limited private practice" -- separate from OSF Healthcare.
OSF, based at 800 NE Glen Oak Ave., next to St. Francis, doesn't directly benefit financially from the prescriptions. Patients can read more details of the birth-control policy on a statement that must be posted in doctors' offices. And doctors must individually buy malpractice insurance for birth-control prescriptions through a process Piccione and OSF helped design and isn't subsidized by the system.
Piccione said he and the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis believe the plan the sisters approved in November 1993 preserves the 118-year-old system's stand on artificial contraception while allowing OSF to "do the good you can in an imperfect world. We recognize that our hands are getting dirty on this, but in a limited way."
Piccione also helped the system's for-profit, managed-care arm, OSF HealthPlans Inc., develop a plan that lets employers contract with OSF for health-care services while obtaining "rider" coverage for contraceptive and sterilization services -- but not abortion -- provided outside the OSF network.
Both arrangements -- the coverage for family planning services and birth-control prescriptions -- received approval from Peoria Bishop John J. Myers. OSF could have offered a package of services and left health-care purchasers on their own to arrange for non- Catholic family planning services. But many potential clients would have shunned OSF altogether, Piccione said.
Accommodations are necessary so OSF can survive financially in an era when managed- care and comprehensive services are required by the private sector, he said.
The position of corporate ethicist is relatively new for OSF and reflects the Sisters' realization that changes in health care nationwide can create ethical questions that need answers, especially for a Catholic system intent on surviving long-term, Piccione said.
Most of his job doesn't involve high-profile issues, though. In lectures and one- on-one conversations, he educates doctors, nurses and other caregivers about how they can work through ethical questions.
A product of public grammar schools and a Catholic high school, Piccione once studied to become a priest. He now is married to Nancy Myers, 31, former communications director for National Right to Life, and they both live in Metamora.
Piccione's training has included a law degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and 14 years of work there as a "policy wonk. " For several years, he analyzed tax- fairness and family-related welfare issues -- for the conservative National Forum Foundation and Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
He worked four years for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was a staff member of the National Commission on America's Urban Families and the National Commission on Children.
He wrote op-ed pieces in 1994 for USA Today criticizing human embryo research and condom-distribution programs. In the 1980s, while still in Washington, he discussed death-and-dying issues on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "20/20." He was comfortable in his government civil service job when OSF learned about him from a priest he knew in Champaign. He said he accepted the system's offer because of the challenge and because it was a chance to directly carry out his Catholic faith.
Piccione said he doesn't regret moving to the nation's heartland to work with health-care providers.
"It's been a great delight and a thrill," he said. "Washington is a very heady and exciting place to be. But Peoria has a lot of concerned people, a strong tradition and pride in their Midwestern values. " @ART CAPTION: Joseph J. Piccione, corporate ethicist for OSF, based at 800 NE Glen Oak Ave., which serves Saint Francis Medical Center, must balance the needs and convictions of the Catholic church and the public demand for services.