The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Charity stops at the church

Dec 1, 2008

St. John Health System recently opened a new 224-million-dollar facility, Providence Park Hospital, in Novi, Michigan, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. The new hospital comes complete with private rooms with flat-screen televisions and large windows for viewing what the hospital refers to as its “green space.”

This is the same hospital system that last year shut down Riverview Hospital, located in a poor area of Detroit. Riverview was the third hospital St. John’s has closed in Detroit in the last 10 years, all the while opening or refurbishing hospitals in wealthy suburbs.

St. John’s is Detroit’s local affiliate of Ascension Health, the country’s largest non-profit health system, owned by the Roman Catholic Church. Non-profit health systems are exempt from taxes – in exchange, so the law says, they provide benefits to the community.

In Detroit, where St. John’s has now closed its last hospital, there are nearly a quarter of a million people without any kind of health care coverage, and with no public or non-profit hospitals left.

St. John’s dares to say that its mission is to care for the poor – so long as they live in a wealthy suburb, that is!