For several years, St. Joseph has been operating under a cloud left behind by
Prior to the scandal, St. Joseph was a much-loved community hospital with a broad array of services but also areas of specialty and expertise. Its new leaders are promising to make it so again, and UMMS' track record — and particularly its affiliation with a major medical school — bodes well for the hospital's future.
The University of Maryland Medical System has been on something of a buying spree in recent years as hospitals consolidate to gain efficiency and competitive advantage. To the degree this helps keep prices down for consumers and provides greater expertise and experience to the affiliated hospitals, this also appears to be a good thing.
That UMMS would be interested in St. Joseph is hardly a surprise since
Meanwhile, Baltimore County wins for keeping open a hospital (and a major employer) that might have been forced to close at some point. St. Joseph ended its last fiscal year at least $24 million in the red, its annual operating revenue having fallen by one-quarter. The institution has lost talent and patients in recent years, and while its sale attracted several bidders, its continued existence was never guaranteed.
But while the outcome may be the best available, there is at least one element of the arrangement that gives us pause. St. Joseph will continue to operate as a Catholic hospital under all the ethical and religious directives that title suggests. That is a first for UMMS, a private, non-profit, nonsectarian organization since 1984 when it was spun off from state government. But it's not a particularly unusual arrangement for a Catholic hospital to be run by a non-Catholic non-profit.
On the one hand, this is how St. Joseph has always been operated, so it's unlikely to cause much upset or surprise in the community. Those potential patients who might seek care not permitted by the Catholic faith including abortion, fertility treatment, or artificial
But what about St. Joseph's own employees? The church has strongly opposed a requirement of President
That would surely be a nightmare for UMMS. After all, as UMMS CEO Robert A. Chrencik has made clear, the organization sees its primary constituency as the state (which created and financed some of the system's most important assets like its world-famous Shock Trauma unit and still has state lawmakers on its board), the medical school and the smaller hospitals in the system. Undermining health care coverage for hundreds of St. Joseph employees would seem wholly counter to its stated mission of providing the "best care in the world to Maryland and the nation."