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CHS Acquisition of Pennsylvania's Mercy Hospital May Alter Catholic Status

The potential sale of Mercy Hospital in Scranton, Penn. to Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems may change aspects of the hospital's Catholic identity, according to a Times-Tribune report.

Under the definitive agreement, which was announced last Thursday, CHS will make at least $68 million in capital investments in the facilities over the next five years. If the sale goes through, the Diocese of Scranton would no longer have any power to enforce the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which prohibits medical procedures and research not in keeping with Catholic teachings.

So far, CHS has agreed to continue the hospital's chaplaincy program and keep religious symbols in the facilities. However, the hospital's chapel will become inter-denominational. Also, since Mercy doesn't have an obstetrics unit, many reproductive procedures will not be an issue, but details on policies for sterilizations and family planning services are still being discussed.

The Vatican will perform a customary review of the proposed sale to decide whether Scranton-based Mercy Health Partners did enough to find a buyer that would keep the hospital's Catholic affiliation.

Read the Times-Tribune report on Mercy Hospital and CHS.

Read more about Catholic hospital M&A:

- Consolidations Spur Conflict Between Hospitals and Church

- 8 Issues Surrounding a For-Profit Company’s Acquisition of Non-Profit Hospitals

- Rift Growing Between Catholic Church, Some Catholic Hospitals

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