The need for values in business has never been more important. Treating customers and staff with respect and dignity are universally acclaimed, and such beliefs are not limited to religiously affiliated healthcare organizations.
The Catholic Health Association, however, believes its members have a corner on matters such as mission, vision and values. In banning members who partner with for-profits, CHA members have made it clear that when a healthcare business operates to earn a profit, it's automatically in conflict with the values of the Roman Catholic Church.
In accusing for-profits of "preying" on Catholic facilities and warning that "one cannot serve both God and money," CHA president John Curley's rhetoric at the group's convention earlier this month seemed somewhat overwrought.
What makes the CHA's action puzzling is that in 1993 the not-for-profit association changed its bylaws to allow for-profit organizations to join as long as they pledged to "promote or foster" Roman Catholic values, support the CHA's mission and be approved by the local diocese's bishop.
At a time when Catholic providers such as Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System are undertaking creative efforts to preserve their longstanding Catholic healthcare ministry, association leaders changed the rules of the game.
Healthcare enterprises of the future will be largely judged by the quality of the services delivered to the public. Few care who owns the buildings in which services are delivered.
And in the end, those organizations that operate ethically and treat their customers well-whether investor-owned or religiously affiliated-will be the ones that succeed.