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American Catholic Hospitals: A Century of Changing Markets and Missions

Barbra Mann Wall
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    American Catholic Hospitals
    Book Description:

    InAmerican Catholic Hospitals, Barbra Mann Wall chronicles changes in Catholic hospitals during the twentieth century, many of which are emblematic of trends in the American healthcare system.

    Wall explores the Church's struggle to safeguard its religious values. As hospital leaders reacted to increased political, economic, and societal secularization, they extended their religious principles in the areas of universal health care and adherence to the Ethical and Religious Values in Catholic Hospitals, leading to tensions between the Church, government, and society. The book also examines the power of women--as administrators, Catholic sisters wielded significant authority--as well as the gender disparity in these institutions which came to be run, for the most part, by men. Wall also situates these critical transformations within the context of the changing Church policy during the 1960s. She undertakes unprecedented analyses of the gendered politics of post-Second Vatican Council Catholic hospitals, as well as the effect of social movements on the practice of medicine.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5108-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Chapter 1 From Sisters in Habits to Men in Suits
    (pp. 1-22)

    The public face of Catholic authority has always been decidedly male; it is indeed ironic, then, that the overwhelming majority of Catholic hospitals in the United States were established and originally managed by women. While mission driven, these Catholic sisters, or nuns, were nevertheless skillful business managers who learned to understand fully and work within the often perilous hospital marketplace.¹ The exception to female-founded institutions was the hospital established by the Alexian Brothers from Aachen, Germany, who were founded to care for the sick and dying. Using U.S. Catholic women’s religious congregations (sometimes called orders or communities) and one men’s...

  7. Chapter 2 A Precarious Economic Scene
    (pp. 23-54)

    The “economic scene was precarious,” the political scene “hyperactive,” and “the religious scene fraught with confusion and anxiety,” wrote the Providence Hospital chronicler in Seattle, Washington, on June 30, 1970, regarding the many changes that had stirred unrest among the sisters as hospital leaders.¹ Of course, this was the seventies, a decade that saw those very social conditions in the United States. But for Catholics in particular, the ecclesiastical edicts of Vatican II had brought about significant and often disruptive cultural changes, and with the sharp dropoff in numbers of new priests, brothers, and sisters, more and more non-Catholics were...

  8. Chapter 3 Religion, Gender, and the Public Representation of Catholic Hospitals
    (pp. 55-72)

    “Experiencing the physical dimension of religion,” Colleen McDannell has noted, “helps bring about religious values, norms, behaviors, and attitudes.”¹ As Catholic hospitals partnered with non-Catholic facilities in the late twentieth century, they faced challenges in their religious identities. This was not the case in the century’s earlier decades. During that era, patients could experience the divine through both the religious women and men who attended them and the religious images and symbols that surrounded them. This was one of the ways that Catholic sisters and brothers distinguished themselves and their hospitals from secular facilities. They conceived of illness not only...

  9. Chapter 4 Regardless of Color, Race, Creed, or Financial Status
    (pp. 73-102)

    In 1955, Brother Constantine Krohn, administrator of Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago, explained to twenty-two Catholic hospital representatives from the Archdiocese of Chicago the Alexian Brothers’ decision to desegregate their hospital and the positive benefits it had brought. Integration, he noted, enabled the Alexian Brothers to fulfill more completely the objectives for which their hospital was established—“to care for the sick regardless of color, race, creed, or financial status.” This decision, said Krohn, led to better patient care, since the patients were placed in nursing units on the basis only of their diagnosis.¹ From their inception in the United...

  10. Chapter 5 Catholic Hospitals and the Federal Government
    (pp. 103-126)

    Consistent with their support of racial justice, Catholic hospital leaders eventually supported the right of all to affordable health care. In 1981, with competition growing between general and investor-owned hospitals, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called for a national health insurance program.¹ But this was a change in policy. Catholic and non-Catholic hospital leaders had traditionally resisted government intervention in their affairs, early on opposing a national health insurance program managed by the government. Over the last quarter of the twentieth century, however, Catholic health care leaders softened their stance as they extended their religious values in the...

  11. Chapter 6 Harassed by Strikes or Threats of Strikes
    (pp. 127-153)

    “It seems that Oakland would not be Oakland were we not harassed by strikes or threats of strikes,” wrote the chronicler of Providence Hospital in Oakland, California, in 1979.¹ Although Catholics were increasingly influential in social justice policies, workplace issues were more problematic. Secular principles dealing with labor applied to service institutions such as Catholic hospitals with religious missions, and over the last quarter of twentieth century, Catholic hospitals became targets for their anti-union stance. Criticism came from within and outside the Catholic Church as strikes occurred in California, Washington, and Alaska. Nurses, other workers, clergy, and sisters as owners...

  12. Chapter 7 Practical Solutions to Complicated Problems
    (pp. 154-174)

    On February 4, 1999, theWall Street Journalnoted growing tenion between religious and medical practices. Its front page, quoted Reverend Gerard Magill, priest, ethicist, professor at St. Louis University, and paid consultant on policy development to the Daughters of Charity and other religious sponsors of Catholic hospitals: “This may shock you, but the Catholic Church is very keen on finding practical solutions to complicated problems. We certainly will not do immoral acts, but we can certainly come to arrangements.”¹ Catholic hospitals would not allow abortions, but other services such as those dealing with reproductive technology might be open to...

  13. Chapter 8 S Stands for “Sister,” Not “Stupid”
    (pp. 175-186)

    From the dawn of Catholic hospitals in America, there has existed an inherent conflict between the Church’s clearly enunciated spiritual values and the market realities with which they had to compete. Over the course of the twentieth century, Catholic hospital leaders adapted to drastic market changes and to transformations within the Church that profoundly increased their moral and religious obligations to the poor and underserved. Catholic hospitals’ missions to serve the needs of the most oppressed and to preserve the sacred rights of the unborn, however, often clashed head-on with practices of secular hospitals not constrained by the same moral...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-230)
  15. Index
    (pp. 231-238)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-242)