Existing health partnerships require re-examination

UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS: Dignity Health has Catholic initiatives that are at odds with UC core values

Illustration of medical forms that are stamped with the word Denied
Lily Callender/Staff

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When a transgender person is denied a hysterectomy on the basis of their identity, the UC system really needs to examine its partnership with Dignity Health.

This health care organization is a Catholic nonprofit that has been limiting the health care procedures available for LGBTQ+ individuals for years. Although Dignity Health boasts a Gender Institute dedicated toward providing high-quality health care for transgender patients, it is also entangled in a lawsuit that calls its treatment of transgender individuals into question.

This discrimination against women and the LGBTQ+ community prevents patients from obtaining comprehensive health care, which heightens existing health disparities. The university must recognize that this continued partnership with Dignity Health stands in direct contrast to UC core values — all marginalized community members deserve patient-centered care.

The university must seek alternative nonprofits that align with its core values. Although Dignity Health undoubtedly makes it more affordable to get a UC education, it is not worth compromising the UC’s ethics and morals. If Dignity Health will not provide a spectrum of medical procedures for all members of the UC community, then it is time to seek an alternative partnership.

Once they become career professionals, UC personnel will be expected to provide medical care that is consistent with legal standards, which protects patient health. But UC medical students working in Dignity Health-affiliated medical facilities are not learning these standards. When health care providers are not trained for certain crucial procedures, a significant amount of the UC population suffers from not receiving the care nor the standard of care they deserve.

Although Dignity Health hosts a variety of specialty services aimed at providing high-quality care to all patients, such as pediatric trauma programs and cancer treatment programs, its values compromise its ability to provide care for everyone. The university both tries to uphold values of inclusion and equity, yet considered extending this partnership in December. Despite the physicians who defend the partnership with Dignity Health, the fact remains that a Catholic institution will not loosen its policies, and these are policies that do not align with the university’s.

The UC Board of Regents is expected to discuss the UC system’s partnership with Dignity Health at its general meeting in March. This university has the choice to continue this partnership and revise the language in the contract to be consistent with its values or look elsewhere for high-quality, affordable health care for all patients. Either way, the existing partnership with Dignity Health cannot continue as it exists –– the lives of many community members depend on change.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2020 opinion editor, Simmy Khetpal.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a woman died from complications stemming from medical complications following an incomplete miscarriage at a Dignity Health hospital. In fact, the woman is still alive, and it cannot be proven that it was a Dignity Health hospital.