Catholic health system has significantly grown in the U.S. since 2001, a trend that could hamper patients’ ability to access some healthcare services that are prohibited by the church, according to a report released Tuesday.
The consumer advocacy group Community Catalyst found the 10 largest Catholic health systems control 394 short-term, acute-care hospitals, a 50% increase since 2001. In a growing number of communities, researchers found residents’ only acute-care options are hospitals that operate under Catholic restrictions. And the report—the fourth in a series under the group’s Women’s Health Program—emphasized the difficulty of learning what services are and are not offered at such facilities.
Like the rest of healthcare, Catholic providers have gravitated toward offering services outside of hospitals. The 10 largest Catholic health systems—including giants like Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health and St. Louis-based Ascension Health—operate 864 urgent care clinics, 385 ambulatory surgery centers and 274 physician groups, according to the