Why didn't West Sub invite Health Alliance to their meeting?

Opinion

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We are writing in response to a Sept. 6 letter from Jay E. Kreuzer, executive vice president and chief executive officer, Resurrection West Suburban Hospital (RWS), delivered to the homes of some people. Inviting them to "a community meeting [Sept. 20] regarding the future of our health care facilities in Oak Park."

Since Mr. Kreuzer indicates that their goal is to be "a good neighbor" [and] as inclusive as possible," it surprises us that RWS did not invite to the meeting representatives of the Oak Park/Austin Health Alliance (OPAHA). As reported in the local papers, OPAHA is a coalition. It presently consists of four groups: Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice, South Austin Community Council, GOP Democratic Socialists of America, and AFSCME Council 31.

OPAHA has several concerns. Among these concerns is setting up a mechanism for RWS to talk with the community about community interests and health care needs. The leaders of OPAHA to whom we spoke had not been informed of the Sept. 20 meeting. More telling, it appears that Austin residents (as opposed to nearby Oak Parkers) had not been invited to the meeting.

When the fast-track takeover of West Sub by Resurrection Health Care (RHC) was under discussion, one of our concerns was the way in which RHC met the letter of the law in terms of calling a meeting about the merger while managing to ignore the spirit of the law. (They held a single, poorly advertised meeting held at an inconvenient time for their neighbors.) In constrast, the high level of community interest was clear at a meeting about the merger, convened by State Rep. Deborah Graham, that we attended. In addition, more than 100 individuals gathered at a meeting this summer convened by OPAHA to discuss RWS's policies and practices with respect to its neighbors.

As citizens and neighbors, our concerns continue to be:

1) Will RHC reverse the declining level of charity care at West Sub and lack of responsiveness to community needs, especially those of our Austin neighbors who lack health insurance?

2) Why should the Roman Catholic Church's policies govern how patients' end-of-life directives are treated, rather than the religious/philosophical beliefs of patients themselves?

3) Will RHC allow West Sub workers to exercise a right to organize into labor unions? And

4) Is RHC honoring their commitments related to reproductive issues (directing rape victims to another facility for emergency contraception) outlined in RHC's agreement with Attorney General Lisa Madigan?

We strongly encourage Mr. Kruezer to open channels of communication with OPAHA, a coalition of community folks whose expressed aim is to work with RWS. In the absence of such a direct invitation to OPAHA to talk, Mr. Kreuzer's letter rings hollow.

Jean Peterman, Rima Lunin Schultz, Peg Strobel
Oak Park

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