To the editor: Michael Hiltzik’s column “UC’s deal with Catholic hospitals threatens the health of women and LGBTQ patients” gives the wrong impression about how Dignity Health provides care.
At Dignity Health hospitals, all healthcare decisions are made between patients and their doctors. Treatment options are offered at the most appropriate site when a Dignity Health hospital does not provide a desired service. Nothing in the expanded affiliation with UC San Francisco would cause any patient to forfeit access to any care.
Our longtime partnership with UCSF is even more urgently needed today because of overcrowding in Bay Area hospitals. We serve anyone in need and provide billions of dollars annually on charity care and community health programs for at-risk populations; and we support crucial service lines that some for-profit providers avoid, such as emergency, mental health and maternity care.
Dignity Health hospitals in San Francisco have been actively serving members of the LGBTQ community for decades through programs delivering specialty care for HIV patients and through the Gender Institute, which provides comprehensive surgical care for transgender patients.
It is unrealistic to expect that agreements between institutions should exist only when their respective beliefs and values entirely align. What ultimately should matter is the resulting benefit that is provided — in this case, for the people and the communities we serve.
Dr. Todd Strumwasser, San Francisco
The writer is Dignity Health’s senior vice president for operations in the Bay Area.