In his article ³Birth Pangs,² Wally Graves appropriately examined the anxiety some members of our community may have regarding St. Joseph¹s Hospital recent expansion in providing health care services. Certain misrepresentations and falsehoods, however, may unduly augment those concerns regarding reproductive rights. ...

The physicians of Center for Women¹s Health Care alluded to in the article were not ³bought² by the hospital but rather formed a strategic alliance with the hospital dedicated to the preservation of and expansion of quality women¹s health care for all members of our community. Hysterectomy is performed at St. Joseph Hospital and is not a surgical option for sterilization in modern medicine. Vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed in the physician¹s office and not the hospital. Tubal ligation, when medically appropriate, will be an option offered to women who choose to have such a procedure without having their medical records ³clouded.² In short, St. Joseph¹s Hospital has made no attempt to influence a physician¹s counseling for or prescribing of reproductive health options, including contraception.

Women¹s health is about choice, but not just about choice. It is also about making certain that women of all circumstances benefit from access to quality health care options. I applaud St. Joseph¹s Hospital leadership role in establishing the BCCCP program promoting access to pap smears and mammograms for women who could not otherwise afford these services.

I feel much more secure, and so should the community at large, knowing that the provision of health care in our community is increasingly being driven by a mission of spirit rather than a margin of profit.

E. Lieberman, MD, FACOG



Did I miss something? I thought Graves was writing an article on St. Joseph¹s re-entry to the obstetrics market. Then, through ³anonymous² sources he comes to the ineluctable conclusion that the good Sisters of Orange are involved in a nefarious plot to monopolize the obstetric market here in Humboldt ³with an eye perhaps to wielding Catholic doctrine on women¹s rights.²

Though the market forces of HMOs and contracting have forced St. Joseph back into the obstetrics arena, a little real investigative journalism would have shown him that they had to have an obstetric wing to be regarded as a full service hospital and remain competitive and able to contract with third-party payors.

Graves concludes that St. Joe¹s obstetric wing ²raises concerns about the future of reproductive rights.² Never mind that Catholic institutions across the nation provide obstetric care to millions. ...

Graves sees the sisters running around aggressively gobbling up practices to put a stranglehold on the beleaguered Eureka General Hospital. Again with a little real investigative journalism, he would have discovered that the groups (each of us for their own reasons) had petitioned the St. Joseph System to purchase our practices and not the other way around....

I have every confidence that this article denigrating the selfless contributions to health care that the St. Joseph Health System have provided here in Humboldt County appeared simultaneously (only by serendipity) with a full page advertisement for Eureka General Obstetric Department. A less trusting or less ingenuous person would be left wondering which article General Hospital paid for -- the back page ad for Dr. Kim Ervin and company -- or Wally¹s -- or both.

James M. Anderson, M.D.

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