This is the storm that never stops.
By now you are well aware of the Hoag Hospital (abortion or no-abortion) controversy as reported in many columns, forums and letters in local newspapers. The national media is beginning to weigh in as well.
To the storm over abortion rights add the immense concern of patients over healthcare in general, Obamacare in particular, and a national debate over gender rights. Take a mortar and pestle and grind in the long and nasty battle for power and control among physicians, boards of directors, administrators and the Feds.
As a catalyst there is the already explosive issue of hospital mergers, particularly when one hospital is Catholic and the other is not.
None of the individual battles are anything new, but taken in the aggregate created a perfect medical storm at Hoag.
Abortion has been and will continue to be an area of disagreement politically for decades to come. The debate over Obamacare will only intensify in the autumn of 2013 when the nearly 3000 pages and thousands of tiny details, like leaves, begin to fall on the heads of unsuspecting patients nationwide.
Still, and in spite of this perfect brew, confrontation might have been avoided had the Hoag powers not behaved so arrogantly and in such a stealth manner.
Physicians are used to bickering with administrators. All this bad blood grew and intensified in the late seventies and early eighties. In an unrelenting advance the control of medicine was taken over by hospital corporations, Wall Street, the government and trial lawyers.
In the early eighties, this writer was chief of staff and chief of a department in a small local hospital. Chiefs of staff from many hospitals told pretty much the same stories at combined meetings. Few trusted their administrators, who would thrive by telling them one pie-in-the-sky lie after another.
Dr. Richard Afable is the recently elected head of the new Covenant Health Network that oversees Hoag and St. Joseph. Afable, has gone from chief executive at Hoag to the same position at Covenant. He is also executive vice president of St. Joseph’s Southern California region. Afable has a physician background at Hoag and is highly respected. Therefore it would be of great community and patient interest to hear his comments on Hoag’s decision not to do elective abortions.
Dr. Afable may be in a difficult position. If the powers that be withheld the highly charged abortion decision from him then Afable would have to revaluate his status and association with them. On the other hand, if Dr. Afable knew early on of the abortion decision, and didn’t inform the Hoag doctors, then he may have lost some trust with the physician staff.
No one says being in charge is easy but we do need to hear more from Dr. Afable as someone we know and respect.
Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., of Newport Beach, writes Deep Thoughts for the Newport Beach Independent.