Pope's pediatric hospital is fixing past problems, says cardinal overseer

IMAGE: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While there had been problems and
complaints in the past, the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital was
working resolve them, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state,
who oversees the hospital.

In responding to an investigative report by the
Associated Press, the cardinal told the AP July 4 there had been past problems at
the hospital, but that the hospital’s current administration, put in place in
2015, was making a “serious effort to resolve them.”

The AP reported July 3 that the Vatican formed a
commission in 2014 to study workers’ complaints and concerns about unsafe medical
protocols, overcrowding and a culture that emphasized practices that might reap
greater revenues.

An external audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2014
determined the hospital’s mission “had been modified in the last few
years” by emphasizing expansion and revenues without adequate governance,
according to the AP.

In January 2015, the Vatican assembled a team to conduct
an announced onsite inspection of the hospital. That team, led by U.S. Sister
Carol Keehan — a Daughter of Charity and president and CEO of the Catholic
Health Association — determined the commission’s report was unfounded and
praised the quality of care at the hospital.

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, confirmed in a written
statement July 3 that “After hearing complaints about care at the hospital
three years ago, the Holy See moved quickly and decisively to study them
seriously. After collecting the criticism, a clinical team was commissioned to
look at the accusations and visit the hospital. The team found an exceptional
level of care at the hospital, and that the accusations were unfounded.”

“The sole critical note concerned inadequate space
in intensive care units, something hospital officials are aware of and working
to improve,” Burke wrote.

He said the church “welcomes any efforts to help
improve that care in its hospitals, including reports of practices that might
be below standard. No hospital is perfect, but it is false and unjust to
suggest that there are serious threats to the health of children at Bambino

Cardinal Parolin told AP that some of the problems
reported by former and current hospital staff in 2014 had been “truly
unfounded,” but that “there was an attempt, and there is currently an
attempt and serious effort to resolve” those problems that had been

Meanwhile, the hospital’s president, Mariella Enoc, told
the AP July 4 that the climate at the hospital had become “more
serene” since she was appointed by Cardinal Parolin in early 2015. She
said she was calling for more open communication and urging people to come
forward with any problems in order to talk “and not keep it inside and
then have it explode.”

Enoc was appointed after the resignation of Giuseppe
Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008. He left less than a
year into a renewed term right before the January 2015 onsite Vatican
inspection of the hospital, amid rumors that a significant amount of money from
the foundation supporting the children’s hospital was used to help finance the
remodeling of the apartment of former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio

Profiti and Massimo Spina, former treasurer of the
hospital, were then subjected to a Vatican investigation in connection to the financing

In November 2015, Cardinal Parolin put in a new board of
advisers at the Bambino Gesu Foundation with a new set of statutes aimed
improving the fundraising body’s transparency.

In December 2015, Pope Francis established a special
pontifical commission to study entities operating in the name of the Catholic
Church in the field of health care. The body, under the guidance of Cardinal
Parolin, who also named Enoc as one of its members, aims to study and propose
ways to increase efficiencies, improve governance and collaboration, and protect
the religious mission and charisms of the clinics, hospitals or institutes.

When Pope Francis met with staff and patients of the
Bambino Gesu hospital Dec. 15, 2016, he emphasized how all those working in the
field of health care must help their patients and be on guard against falling
down the slippery slope of corruption that begins with special favors, tips and

“The worst cancer in a hospital like this is
corruption,” he said. “In this world where there is so much business
involved in health care, so many people are tricked by the sickness industry,
Bambino Gesu hospital must learn to say no. Yes, we all are sinners. Corrupt,


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