Benedictine and Kingston hospitals, both located in the City of Kingston, were merged into HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley in 2007, when the Pataki-appointed Berger Commission mandated downsizing of hospital bed capacity throughout New York State. At the time, Benedictine was directly threatened with closure, because the Catholic-run campus prohibits abortion and related services – deemed by law to be an essential reproductive right for women.Right. You cannot have a publicly funded hospital that doesn't provide reproductive services. We're talking about basic things like contraception before we even get to the abortion issue.
Five years later, fiscal shortfalls are causing the HealthAlliance to consolidate resources, and shut down Kingston Hospital instead. Officials announced the decision in July. This leaves Benedictine as the surviving facility, and officials are being questioned about the sectarian implications.
“The campus that we use as a single site will have the ability to provide all levels of reproductive services, including terminations,” according to HealthAlliance Board Chairwoman Cynthia Lowe. “We have to be able to have a full service facility in this community, and it will be the surviving entity. That's why it can't be Catholic.”
But, it's all good. Benedictine will simply be re-flagged as secular facility:
Benedictine is expected to be renamed, and the religious sisters who currently run the Catholic facility will no longer be in control of the future campus.This makes sense, as Benedictine is a better facility overall. But I think we can definitely expect to hear some squawking along the way.
“We tried our best in this community to maintain two missions; it didn't work,” Lowe said. “Did anybody here predict that recession? Did anybody have any idea how intense and long term and how much it was going to impact all our lives? None of us knew that, but that’s one of the things we are all dealing with, and we deal with it in our daily lives and we deal with it in the life of the hospital, and we will continue to do that.”
Lowe said the choice now is how to make one hospital survive to provide health care for the community.