N.H. Voices: Friends of St. Benedict oppose hospital merger

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Thomas J. Donovan Esq., Director

Charitable Trusts Unit

Office of the Attorney General

33 Capitol Street

Concord, New Hampshire 03301

Dear Mr. Director,

The Friends of Saint Benedict Center wish to be recorded in opposition to the proposed acquisition of Granite One Health and Catholic Medical Center by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health.

The Catholic health care system in New Hampshire, centered upon Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, has provided medical care to the residents of this state for nearly one hundred and twenty-nine years. It was founded not only to assist those in need, but to do so in a manner infused with a spirit of Christian charity and in keeping with the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Catholic medical ethics are long established, comprehensive and carefully exacting, and offer an alternative vision to many of the contemporary values and practices of modern secular medicine.
Although the Diocese of Manchester insists that Catholic Medical Center will remain in compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Combination Agreement, reinforced by the Joint Notice of Change of Control, will cede corporate, budgetary, operational and effective administrative control of Catholic Medical Center to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, an entity which emphatically rejects Catholic moral principles in the conduct of its own institutional life and governance.

This acquisition is a formula for protracted conflict, endless controversy and unhappy compromises. There is an unbridgeable gulf between Catholic and secular medicine on such issues as the protection of pre-born life, the requirements of natural law, the understanding of gender, the prohibitions of the Hippocratic Oath, and the presumption of primacy for the sanctity of life over the quality of life in end of life care.

Moreover, the treatment afforded by Dartmouth-Hitchcock to some of its own employees who have expressed conscientious objections to certain procedures in its facilities does not inspire confidence. Despite formal guarantees, in the long term, the integral preservation of Catholic medical practices at CMC may, under this proposed combination, prove problematic, if not entirely unworkable. There are, simply, too many points of disagreement.

Under the so-called neutral principles of charitable trusts law, this acquisition will likely imperil the ability of Catholic Medical Center to continue, unimpaired, in its foundational charitable mission. Unlike circumstances in other states which have compelled mergers, Catholic health care institutions in New Hampshire are in no imminent danger of insolvency or closure.

I respectfully urge you therefore, to advise the Attorney General of New Hampshire, the Honorable Gordon J. MacDonald, to disallow this improvident and impracticable combination.

Thank you.

C.J. Doyle,

Director of Communications

Friends of Saint Benedict Center

PO. Box 6551

Manchester, NH 03108

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