Friday, January 11, 2008

Should Saint Francis Medical Center Remain Catholic? Part VII

Over the years I have had face-to-face discussions and sent and received e mails from Joe Piccione. Joe is OSF's Corporate ethicist.

Joe was not a champion of the Haitian Hearts children referred to in this web log. His fear was obvious. He was afraid to buck OSF even though the Ethical and Religious Directives mandated his action.

As mentioned earlier, Joe was hired in the mid-1990's to find a way for OSF to dispense birth control pills without making it appear that OSF was dispensing birth control pills. Joe worked with the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and developed loopholes which allow physicians that are employed by OSF to prescribe oral contraceptives when they are not working for OSF. Apparently they are not working for OSF when they are writing the prescriptions for oral contraceptives. After the prescription is written, they are OSF employees again. Yes, this is difficult to understand, but was done so OSF could stay competitive in the medical market...according to Joe.

In the 2001 revisions of the Directives it states considerable moral distance is needed to be established and maintained between the Catholic entity and the provision of prohibited services. Where is the "moral distance" when OSF and the Diocese were instigating and arranging the changes that would allow their providers (doctors) to be involved in "wrongdoing"?

Directive 52 states: "Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices but should provide, for married couples and the medical staff who counsel them, instruction both about the Church's teaching on responsible parenthood and in methods of natural family planning."

However, Joe and OSF and the Diocese were able to skirt around Directive 52. The Directives were not established so lawyer/ethicists could find ways to break the spirit of the law.

OSF recently lost their only Natural Family Planning (NFP) doctor. Even though there is a NFP department, too little OSF funds have been dedicated to this department and Joe and others haven't pushed hard enough. NFP is not covered under OSF HealthPlans even though numerous oral contraceptives are covered. (Interestingly, I do not believe OSF HealthPlans which includes contraceptives is offered OSF employees. Why?)

Joe also told me that scandal is an act against charity. He was skirting around this word also. The Directives state that the technical theological definition of scandal from the Cathechism of the Catholic Church is: "Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil".

According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, oral contraceptives when used for contraceptive purposes, is evil. So when Joe, OSF, and the Diocese created loopholes for others to do evil, is this not scandalous?

In fact, Directive Number 71 states: "The possibility of scandal must be considered when applying the principles governing cooperation. Cooperation (with evil-doers), which in all other respects is morally licit, may need to be refused because of the scandal that might be caused." (There are different types of "cooperation" that ethicists use to sanction certain actions...)

I believe that Joe, OSF, and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria have created scandal; in other words, helped lead people to do the wrong thing. And with regards to Haitian Hearts patients, these kids have been refused care at OSF-SFMC. This is scandal too.

Should Saint Francis Medical Center remain Catholic?

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