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January 23, 1998     The Message
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January 23, 1998
 

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12 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Jal H MO execs in survey: Spirituality can reduce health BOSTON (CNS) -- Even HMO exec- utives believe that spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation can have a beneficial effect on a person's health, according to a recent survey. Conducted by Yankelovich Partners at the American Association of Health Plans' 1997 meeting, the survey found that 94 percent of the 300 HMO professionals surveyed believed that personal spiritual practices could aid medical treatment and accelerate the healing process. In addition, 74 percent believed that the positive effects of spirituality on medical treatment could reduce health care costs. But 89 percent said that the rules and policies of their health plan or institution do not take into account scientific data and research finding regard- ing the relationship between spirituality and well being. "For more than 25 years, we have been exploring and researching the relationship between faith and healing as a complement, not an alternative, to traditional med- icine," said Dr. Herbert Benson, associate professor at Harvard Medical School's Mind Body Medical Insti- tute, at a Boston press conference announcing the find- ing. "It is gratifying that the leaders in America's health care systems overwhelmingly support the importance of spiritual practices in medical treatment," Benson added. But in order to consider providing more health cov- erage for spiritual and meditative practices, 76 percent of the executives said they would need direct evidence of clinical effectiveness, 65 percent said they would need to see more proof of cost savings, and 62 percent said they would need evidence of patient satisfaction. At the press conference, the HMO survey results were compared to a 1996 survey American Academy of Family ing. In that survey, 99 percent of the 269 questioned said that spiritual beliefs can l medical treatment, reducing ing patients' quality of life. More than were already incorporating tion techniques into their patients' treatment. In the 1997 survey, 83 percent of the said they thought relaxation and: should be a standard part of formal for health care professionals. But only 20 percent ofHMO t . percent of the family physicians said the topic addressed during their education Catholic hospital sold to nonprofit health had a proud tradition" of serv- ing the Dillon community since 1943, when St. Eugene opened. In making the decision to sell the community hospital, she said, SSM Health Care "wanted to find a strong partner that would ensure the future of St. Eugene as a Catholic hospital providing quality health ser- vices to the people of the Dillon County area. We found such a partner in McLeod." SSM Health Care officials said they worked:closely with Bishop David B. Thompson of Charleston during negotia- tions to see that the Catholic identity of St. Eugene would be protected. In a statement the bishop said he was pleased that steps were taken to ensure that th e hospi- tal's Catholic identity ."will remain strong and intact into the future." For the past three and a half years, St. Eugene and McLeod Regional have worked together as part of the Palmetto Health Care Network of Northeast South Carolina. The two hospitals are expect- ed to become a single integrated health care organization with two locations, serving more than 300,000 people. An announcement about the sale said the two facilities "will work toward enhancing health SSM Health Care in St. Louis. Sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, SSM Health Care is one of the largest Catholic systems in the country. It now owns, operates and man- ages 25 entities m including 21 acute care facilities m in four states: Missouri, Illinois, Wis- consin and Oklahoma. "Our two systems have a sim- ilar mission and values, and we look forward to strengthening the provision Of local, nonprof- it health care services to the Dil- lon County community," said Bruce Barragan, president and CEO of McLeod Regional Med- ical Center. Sister Ryan noted that the system she heads "has DILLON, S.C. (CNS) m A St. Louis based Catholic health care system has sold its Catholic community hospital in Dillon to a non-Catholic, nonprofit South Carolina hospital system. Under the terms of the agree- ment, reached Jan. 1, St. Eugene Community Hospital will retain its Catholic identity as part of the McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence. The amount of the sale was not disclosed. "We made the decision to transfer St. Eugene to the McLeod system only after care- ful consideration and negotia- tion," said Sister Mary Jean Ryan, a Franciscan Sister of Mary and president and CEO of Group urges better pain control, penalties for not ication and the knowledge of how to use it." Yet many doctdrS fear disci- plinary action if they prescribe high doses of opiates or other controlled substances, the memo noted. As a result, physicians tend to undertreat pain, rather than risk professional conse- quences, it said. To counter that effect, Com- passion in Dying also recom- mended that medical boards: Adopt guidelines on effec- tive pain control, making it clear to physicians that medication should not be withheld to avoid addiction in dying patients. Eliminate some of the legal barriers to how strong drugs are controlled, such as limits on refills or dosage. m Create an ombudsman position to represent the inter- ests of dying patients and their families. m Encourage or require con- tinuing education in palliative care and pain control for termi- nal illness. Investigate reports that doctors failed to adequately treat pain in dying patients. Opponents as well as sup- porters of physician-assisted sui- cide have emphasized the need for better treatment of pain for By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service Msgr. William B. Smith, pro- fessor of m6ral theology at the New York archdiocesan semi- nary, St. Joseph's, and a member of the Calvary Hospital board, called palliative care "the answer to euthanasia," at a New York conference on assisted sui- cide in October 1997. Palliative care is a broad term that covers treatment of pain, depression and other issues affecting the quality of a dying person's life. Dr. Kathleen M. Foley, who heads the pain treatment service of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, also has advocated tackling patients" pain before they decide killing themselves is the only way to end their misery. "I see patients daily who say they would like to die," she said at one seminar for administra- tors of Catholic hospitals. "I say let's get your pain under con- trol." The Catholic Church teaches that it is wrong to prescribe med- ication with the intention that the patient die. Yet, the church says it is acceptable to prescribe strong medicine to treat pain even when it is likely that an unintended side-effect will be to hasten the patient's death. ment of pain apparently lies less in what actually happens to doc- tors who overprescribe medica- tion than in physicians' fear of what could happen. In a telephone press confer- ence Jan. 12, Dr. Robert Broody, a member of Compassion in Dying's executive committee and physician on the staff of San Francisco General Hospital, said undertreatment is "less a prob- lem in fact than a perception" that there could be repercus- sions for prescribing large doses of pain-killers. Barbara Coombs Lee, execu- five director of Compassion in Dying, said the question of where to draw the ethical line care services, improving of the two McLeod is one employers in the ! more than health sys ical stat cians, a Darlington, vices, an center, and centers. - ,,i St. Eugene has beds and also practices for rural health center and a rehabilitation between an dose of primarily to be standards" tors based ence. Kathryn director t the Supreme Court, the tice Sandra pointed out face legal provide "even to the death." Panelists analyze mana By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Alain Enthoven of Stanford University, known as the "father of managed care," defended the need for managed health care in a dialogue Jan. 12 at George- town University. Until the concept of managed care was introduced in the late 1970s, "we had a system with no controls (on costs)," he said. The problem with tmdertreat- He and Dr. Edmund Pellegri- leading partner in that mana and bad control whether come to be care or nisms. They effects of ever, with that the poor suffer the WASHINGTON (CNS)  The organization leading the push in Oregon and Washington states to legalize assisted suicide is pressing state medical boards to encourage better treatment of pain and penalize doctors who don't cooperate. Compassion in Dying, the Oregon-based organization that unsuccessfully sued to overturn Washington's ban on physician- assisted suicide, sent letters to state medical boards Jan. 12 call- ing for penalties against doctors who are found tO have inade- quately controlled pain in ter- minally ill patiefits. The recommendation for penalties was one of seven sug- gested steps for medical boards to take to encourage doctors to provide stronger doses of med- ication for patients in the painful stages of terminal illness. "A disturbingly large percent- age of hospitalized dying patients suffer unrelieved pain toward the end of their lives," said the memorandum. "Med- ical experts are virtually unani- mous in their agreement that this percentage is far higher than it should be, given today's avail- abili 9 f " apropriate pain reed- the terminally ill.