Dignity Health and the University of California: A Legacy of Caring for Californians

Together, Dignity Health and University of California Health centers have been delivering specialized care for decades. Our doctors and health centers share expertise and put critically needed health services within reach for thousands of patients every year. These kinds of partnerships are at the core of California’s public health safety net.

  • Together we provide specialty care to communities that would not otherwise be available in areas such as mental health, cancer care, trauma, newborn intensive care, and LGBTQ health.
  • Together we bring life-changing medical innovations within reach for more patients including many patients in rural areas.
  • Together we coordinate care for at-risk patients so they can get care more quickly, and free up capacity at specialized treatment centers so care is available for patients who need it most.

These are some of the programs made possible because of partnership:

Pediatric Trauma in Southern California
Through a partnership with UCLA Health, specialists provide pediatric trauma services at Northridge Hospital. This is the only program of its kind in the San Fernando Valley, which launched in 2010 because of a community demand for additional pediatric trauma care in the region. This program treated more than 700 patients in FY19.

Adolescent Psychiatry in San Francisco
St. Mary’s Medical Center offers the only inpatient adolescent psychiatry program in San Francisco, which saw more than 1,000 patients in FY19. The hospital’s partnership with UCSF allows medical residents to rotate through the program, offering patients access to more caregivers, and providing a level of specialty training that residents couldn’t get elsewhere.

Cancer Care in the Central Valley
The joint UC Davis-Mercy Merced Cancer Center serves more than 13,000 patients from across the region every year. The center provides access to radiation oncology services and highly specialized care from UC experts. At St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, patients can access cancer clinical trials thanks to a partnership with UCSF. Without these partnerships, this care would not be available.

Inpatient Headache Care in Northern California
The UCSF Health inpatient headache program is housed at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco. It is the only program of its kind in Northern California.

HIV Care in San Francisco
An outpatient clinic at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco has been providing care for HIV patients since the early 80s. Thanks to our partnership with UC, a UCSF specialist physician leads the clinic, ensuring that all our patients receive this specialty care.

Download a Fact Sheet about the partnership>>

The Future of These Programs if the Partnerships Are Forced to Close

There is no question that partnerships like these expand access to health care for more Californians. But some are suggesting that the University of California should not partner with faith-based nonprofit organizations like Dignity Health to offer this care.

Ending these partnerships will eliminate access to urgently needed health services for thousands of patients.

At the core of the concern is whether UC physicians are impacted by Dignity Health’s Catholic affiliation when they are practicing in Dignity Health hospitals. Catholic hospitals like Dignity Health’s agree to uphold Catholic values, such as serving the poor. Catholic hospitals also agree not to perform certain services such as elective abortions, elective sterilization, or in-vitro fertilization. These services are not typically performed in hospitals regardless of religious affiliation.

Dignity Health expects all clinicians practicing in its facilities to provide services in accordance with their clinical judgement and the needs and wishes of their patients. Dignity Health also expects all clinicians to inform patients of all of their health care options and transfer a patient to another provider if a certain service is not offered. In recent months, Dignity Health and the University of California have worked to update their contractual arrangements so these expectations are even clearer.

Several respected health care organizations, including the California Medical Association and California Hospital Association, have expressed public support for these partnerships. You can voice your support to continue these vital health programs by submitting comments up until March 16 by contacting the UC Regents.

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