In repeating nearly the same path followed by Adventist Health System in Colorado just over 20 years ago, in which three SDA hospitals were given to the Catholic Church, Walla Walla General Hospital (WWGH), a health-care facility wholly owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Walla Walla, Washington, is being sold to the Catholic-owned Providence Health & Services for $14 million dollars payable in installments over 24 years.
In a video statement, Joyce Newmyer, the bejeweled president of Adventist Health, Pacific Northwest Region, stated in gushing terms how:
"This is an opportunity for Adventist Health. We will be able to explore new expressions of our mission. And through the new foundation fund, [the $14 million dollars] have resources to invest in innovative initiatives that build on the Adventist legacy of wellness and prevention."
She offered no statement on what and/or who led to the current failure and if the same failed leadership model would be responsible for spending the $14 million dollars.
It was repeatedly said that this is not a sale, but rather a transfer of "control" or "sponsorship" or "membership". There are at least three reasons for doing so including:
1. If it was called a sale, IRS regulations on the sale and transfer of ownership of non-profit legal entities would be come into play.
2. By it not being called a sale, the parties avoid numerous state regulatory concerns.
3. By not calling it a sale and depending on the bylaws of the hospital and Adventist Health itself, it may avoid having to have constituent approval vis-a-vis a duly called constituency meeting by the North Pacific Union and/or the Upper Columbia conference to approve such a sale. Again, the voters in the pews seem to have no say in that which impacts them most.
So, this sale is even worse than the process as was done in Colorado when our hospitals were given away to the Catholic church's Centura Health, with little to show for it except they let us keep the name "Adventist" on the front of the hospitals. Centura Health is a partnership in Colorado by which the Catholic Health Initiatives partnered with Adventist Health System. But it was an unequal partnership with the Catholic Health representatives maintaining a majority of the managing board, keeping full control.
One thinks back to the entreating words of Ellen White, "You are not to unite with unbelievers in medical work" (Medical Ministry, p. 45).
But make no mistake. Legalese aside, this IS a sale. The Catholics get a hospital and the Adventists get $14 million. How much clearer can it be?
Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union; John Freedman, president of the North Pacific Union, and Paul Hoover, president of the Upper Columbia Conference, all sit on various boards with oversight of Walla Walla General Hospital. And yet not one peep was heard from any of them, or their respective conference publications alerting the church about the dire situation at WWGH that precipitated its sale to the Roman Catholic Church.
It could have been that if the needs had been made known to the SDA church at large, and proper administrative measures taken in line with established church policy regarding medical missionary work, that perhaps the hospital could have been saved. Now one wonders what other institutions owned by our church can be just sold off to the highest bidder if a board decides to do so. Is Walla Walla University up for sale or maybe a few academies and publishing houses? What about local churches?
Rick Bockmann, current WWGH president and CEO, was a former vice-president at the Catholic-owned Centura Health. This raises questions as to exactly why he was brought in to run WWGH at the late date of October of last year. Was he brought in to sell WWGH? As a result of the sale, WWGH is being subsumed into Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla.
Not only will the hospital be taken over by the Catholics, but they have even offered to run the student clinic at Walla Walla University and there are discussions being made on this. No word on if any other discussions are being held on having the Catholic church run other programs at WWU.
Ironically, for those who are concerned about abortions being provided in Adventist Hospitals, giving the hospitals over to Catholic control seems to be the fastest way to resolve the moral conflict.
Excerpt: "Stunned physicians, nurses, and staff of the 72-bed acute care Seventh-day Adventist Walla Walla General Hospital in Walla Walla, Washington, were notified at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. meetings on Monday that their parent organization, Adventist Health, had agreed to transfer their hospital and clinics to the control of the Roman Catholic Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center. Employees were notified that as of July 1, 2017, they would be employed by Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center."
It's a sad state of affairs when the the SDA church cannot even run a hospital in an SDA ghetto such as Walla Walla. Perhaps the vision was lost long ago through one word. Compromise.
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless" (2 Peter 3:13-14).
"If a worldly influence is to bear sway in our school, then sell it out to worldlings and let them take the entire control; and those who have invested their means in that institution will establish another school, to be conducted, not upon the plan of popular schools, nor according to the desires of principal and teachers, but upon the plan which God has specified" (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p25).