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More nurses voice concerns ahead of Dignity-CHI merger

Nurses at a Santa Maria, Calif., impact hearing for the merger of San Francisco-based Dignity Health and Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives voiced concerns about the finances and future of the potential $28.4 billion health system, Santa Ynez Valley News reported.

The nurses' predominant concern is the financial stability of CHI, which has recently closed hospitals in Texas, Nebraska and Kentucky, according to Tom Dunne, Central Coast California Nurses Association union representative. The nurses asked that the merger agreement include a stipulation that Dignity's hospitals remain open for at least 15 years, instead of the proposed five. They also called for protected pensions and no reduction in charity care for low-income patients, according to the report.

Nurses also worried about access to services under CHI, which is a Catholic health system. They noted concerns about future access to women's reproductive options and patients' end-of-life decisions. However, Dignity Health spokesperson Megan Maloney told Santa Ynez Valley News there would be no change to services or programs at Dignity Health hospitals or clinics.

The nurses at the Santa Maria hearing join others who voiced their concerns at previous hearings for the merger, which still requires regulatory approval.

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