Looks like Saint Mary's Healthcare is getting out of the business of mercy. As reported here last Friday, River City's Catholic hospital has axed its funding of the award-winning Catherine's Care Center, a Northeast side medical clinic that is unique in its open door policy to all area residents in need of care.
Saint Mary's was founded by the Sisters of Mercy and had been known until its recent name change as Saint Mary's Mercy Medical Center. Now "mercy" is gone from the hospital's name, its logo, and even its mission statement. Hence, the cold and calculated business decision to eliminate funding to Catherine's Care Center, because the clinic's association with the hospital created a "continuum of care" resulting in the clinic's uninsured patients being referred to the hospital when necessary. Uninsured patients tend to eat up the profits (ahem, excess revenues) of non-profit hospitals like Saint Mary's.
And, dear readers, you thought the reason non-profit hospitals were non-profit was because they use their "excess revenues" for charitable purposes like caring for the poor!
But was it really a hard-nosed business decision? If it were, you'd think that whoever made that decision would be standing behind it. However, no one at Saint Mary's is 'fessing up to cutting off Catherine's Care. Indeed, according to the hospital's spokesman, Micki Benz, none of Saint Mary's senior executives knew of the decision to defund the clinic before it had been made. Yet, the senior staff of the Grand Rapids diocese of the Catholic Church knew about it well ahead of its announcement, as did the top officials of an organization called Advantage Health.
Advantage Health is a professional corporation consisting of physicians and healthcare personnel who provide medical services for Saint Mary's and its affilitates. Notably, a special arm of Advantage Health actually owns the hospital's grounds and buildings. What Advantage Health did not control was the lead physician, Dr. John Walen, for Catherine's Care Center, unlike other community clinics associated with Saint Mary's. Moreover, Dr. Walen had broken away from Advantage Health some years back, a transgression for which Advantage Health has not forgiven him.
Now, folks, you may be scratching your head. Wouldn't an organization that had the clout that Advantage Health has with Saint Mary's have bigger fish to fry than try to scuttle a healthcare program like Catherine's Care that does so much for so little for our community? You'd think, but upon the heels of the termination announcement, an Advantage Health lackey was demanding that Catherine's Care return the soap dispensers the hospital had given the clinic. Don't underestimate the pettiness people can lower themselves to.
Whether or not the tail is wagging the dog and Saint Mary's is under the undue influence of a powerful vendor, at the end of the day it is Saint Mary's merciless decision to abandon Catherine's Care Center.
Coming up is the full story about what Catherine's Care does in our community and the misinformation Saint Mary's has put out about that. Also is the story of how the Toxic Towers developers have profited from Saint Mary's.