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Health Prog. 1993 Sep;74(7):56-9, 65.

An opportunity for positive change. We have the history, experience, and will to preserve a Catholic presence in healthcare.

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Diocese of Brooklyn, NY.


The charitable acts of women religious in response to the needs of the communities in which they settled is one of the great chapters in the history of the Church in America. But in the past two decades providers have had to contend with extraordinary changes in the healthcare environment. The Catholic healthcare mission was rooted in concern for the poor. Should Catholic healthcare providers withdraw from this field in which they have had such a significant presence and have contributed so much, or be driven from healthcare by the fiscal consequences of fidelity to mission? Instead, through its reform proposal, the Catholic Health Association has recommended that Catholic providers become advocates of change. However, even if change, such as universal access to healthcare, is achieved, we shall still have a society in which there will be many poor people. The challenge will be to see that healthcare for the poor does not become poor healthcare. Although the changing urban environment presents enormous challenges to providers, the Catholic healthcare ministry is a significant presence in urban areas. Widespread poverty accompanied by behavioral problems and social breakdowns are significant factors affecting healthcare and healthcare costs. Drug addiction; AIDS; teenage pregnancy; homelessness; the deterioration of the family; and generations of unemployment, anomie, abuse, and violence, which are often most acute in concentrated neighborhoods of poverty, challenge the ability of Catholic hospitals to meet their community's needs. Catholic providers today have a real opportunity to bring about positive changes in healthcare. They have the history, experience, and will to preserve a Catholic presence in the provision of healthcare.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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