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Tarpon Springs commissioners waive hospital clause barring religious discrimination

St. Petersburg Times, August 19, 2010

City commissioners voted unanimously to allow hiring decisions to be based on religious beliefs at Helen Ellis Hospital to clear the way for a merger that could save the financially strapped facility. Commissioners voted 5-0 on a request by Adventist Health System Sunbelt, which is associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to waive a clause in their lease agreement with the hospital that prohibited discrimination based on religion. "I'm looking at this as an opportunity, a great opportunity for our hospital to survive," Commissioner Susan Slattery said. The vote will enable Adventist Health System to finalize its merger with University Community Hospital Inc., which operates the hospital.