The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Synod questions hospital decisions

Passes resolution on Advocate plan to close emergency room in Chicago's West Side

The Metropolitan Chicago Synod continues its struggle over the actions of Advocate Health Care. Voting 197-159 at its June assembly, the synod called upon the ELCA-affiliated company to restore emergency-room services at Bethany on Chicago’s West Side, maintain full acute health-care services there and invest as much in this hospital as it does in suburban facilities.

“We were happy to engage in dialogue, but we believe that what we are doing is consistent with our values and philosophy and what our mission is on the West Side,” said Tony Mitchell, an Advocate spokesman. He said the company will continue to transform Bethany into a long-term care facility, which includes closing the emergency unit. Advocate intended to eliminate the hospital’s mental health, obstetrics and gynecology units, but the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board rejected that proposal.

Some synod members are concerned with Advocate’s response. “We’ve been working on a task force for the last year and a half. Advocate and the synod and Church in Society have tried to lay down principles to at least listen to each other,” said Paul Landahl, synod bishop. “I saw this as an opportunity for this to be tested, to determine, ‘Can we actually sit and talk about this issue?’ ”

Though each organization has its own governing body, Advocate is an ELCA social ministry organization and an affiliate of the United Church of Christ. Through ELCA Church in Society, Advocate and the Chicago synod share a health-care ministry of service. Synod members who drafted the resolution said Advocate’s plan for Bethany was in discord with the ELCA’s mission and values.

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