Is Mercy Health abandoning Catholic mission in Hot Springs?
St. Joseph's hospital, Hot Springs' largest employer, will soon end its leading role if executives at Mercy Health are permitted to sell the hospital to the Tennessee-based owners of a rival for-profit hospital across town. To pull that off, Mercy officials must not only convince federal regulators—who are cracking down on hospital monopolies in smaller cities—but also Vatican officials in Rome. The future of what locals affectionately call "St. Joe's" lies in a bubbling stew of healthcare politics, antitrust law, and religious doctrine. And the debate over its fate cuts to the core of the shifting role of the Catholic health ministry in an era of hospital consolidation.
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