Proposed Adventist – Catholic Partnership Between Northern California Hospital Networks Generates Debate
11 July 2019 | Catholic and Adventist hospital networks in certain Northern Californian counties are seeking to set up a joint operating company.
According to the Napa Valley Register, ST Network LLC, would operate the Queen, Adventist Health St. Helena, and seven other hospitals in Lake, Sonoma, Solano, Mendocino and Humboldt counties.
It is not a merger or an acquisition,” said Jeff Eller, president of Adventist Health’s Northern California region at a public meeting in Calistoga on July 3. “The joint operating company will allow us to collaborate and improve the health outcomes of those that we mutually serve.”
“I believe this partnership will ensure we can better adapt to an ever-changing health care landscape and help us to fulfill our vision of health for a better world,” said Larry Coomes, chief executive of St. Joseph Health-Queen of the Valley Medical Center.
Ian Seldin, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association, critiqued the “deeply anti-worker, anti-union principles espoused by … Adventist Health.”
The Napa Valley Register said that the Adventist denomination had “historically discouraged its members from joining unions, and in 1998 opposed efforts by nurses in Ukiah to organize.”
“If we are to understand that God somehow prevents an Adventist organization from following the federal laws regarding labor unions, what expectation can we all have that this Adventist health corporation will not use God to claim an exemption from any other state or federal law?” asked Seldin.
Others are commenting on the religious differences between the two systems. Father William McIlmoyl of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Calistoga, said that 50 years ago this kind of partnership would not have been considered.
“These two institutions would have had nothing to talk about really – theologically, you name it,” said McIlmoyl whose daughter serves as an intensive care nurse at Adventist Health St. Helena.
“The fact that they are in conversation about how to better serve the community I think sends an interesting message in a world that’s too often divided.”
Under the joint operating company, the various hospitals would retain their original faith identities, whether Catholic or Adventist.