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Is PWCH Becoming Anti-Christian?

By Greg L | 21 September 2009 | Prince William County | 26 Comments

It’s nothing new to see a business manage the internet traffic that comes and goes, but it is somewhat unusual to see a business filtering email traffic that relates to issues of religious faith.  What I’m hearing this evening is that Prince William Hospital is not only censoring internal emails between nursing professionals who express religious convictions, but they’re actually blocking external IP addresses when the content of the emails contains the word “Christ.”  Granted, all of this information is anecdotal, but based on the information I’m getting from Prince William Hospital employees, it sure does look like there’s a war brewing between Christian employees and hospital management that doesn’t seem to tolerate Christianity.

This all seems to be a result of widespread dissatisfaction within the hospital staff that some of the new policies being adopted by the hospital’s new owner Novant directly contradict the religious beliefs of some employees.  The diversity-focused corporate Human Resources policies of Novant we’ve seen so far appear to be positively Marxist, and as an institution that deals with the very personal decisions of area residents, these policies have distinct impacts that affect the quality of care that patients receive as well as the institutional environment patients will reside in during their stays.  When health care professionals are directed, under penalty of termination, to act in ways that they strongly disagree with not only because of their own beliefs, but because they fear negative impacts on the quality of care for the patients they treat, we’ve got a real problem.

While it’s well within the rights of any employer, hospitals included, to restrict email and other internet traffic in any way they see fit.  It’s their stuff, and they can do what they want with it, even if those policies are hugely problematic.  If Prince William Hospital wants to prostelytize for golden bulls and urge patients to bow down to various graven images, or absolutely prevent any mention of religious faith whatsoever they’re within their rights to do so.  The downside of this quite obviously is that a number of their patients aren’t leaving through the front doors, and there’s a very real reason why faith and the expression of it plays a significant part in a healthcare environment.  It’s virtually impossible to cordon faith off from a hospital environment, and trying to do so almost certainly has measurable negative impacts on patient outcomes that would even be convincing to persons entirely lacking faith.

So it’s a rather chilling thing to see the word “Christ” trigger email filters and external IP address blocks, if that’s happening as I have been told, and the anecdotal evidence to support that it is happening is pretty strong.    Are discussions among hospital staff, and with non-employees regarding faith being supressed?  What is to happen when a nurse seeks guidance from their Pastor about how to deal with a terminally ill patient and is having a difficult time with that?  Or what happens when the significant changes being rapidly imposed by Novant cause health care professionals to ask the authoritative spiritual leader within their faith questions about how to deal with the changes?  If the word “Christ” is mentioned instead of “Mohammed”, do their queries end up going to /dev/null instead of their pastor, priest or reverend?

That appears to be the case now.

I hope the new management at Prince William Hospital thinks long and hard about the impacts that an ostensibly anti-Christian policy would have on employee recruitment and retention as well as the impacts this might have on the care of patients in their facility.  Prince William Hospital doesn’t have to become a religious institution or actively promote religious beliefs, but potentially being hostile to them would be a terribly ill-advised decision, to say the least.

That doesn’t fit the community, and it doesn’t work in a health care institution.

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  1. Blessed RN said on 21 Sep 2009 at 11:25 pm:
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    I can assure readers that this is true. It is a very recent development. On 9/11 weeks ago our security director emailed the entire organization a faith-based inspirational article about God and America, and everyone appreciated it and had no issues with it.

    But when the news broke about Novant offering same sex “domestic partner” benefits and that we might be forced to accept their benefit package and policies here at Prince William, that’s when the witch-hunt so to speak and the censorship began. Right when this sparked dissent, suddenly God and Christ became dirty words.

    These new “partners” (as they call themselves, though it’s becoming clear that they’re really simply “owners” and there is no true local power here in Prince William) need to realize that PWC and Manassas are different from where they’re from. We’re different from Fairfax and even other surrounding communities. They need to realize that we’re the community that turned the tide against illegal immigration and that we don’t go down on our beliefs easy or without a fight.

  2. NoVA Scout said on 22 Sep 2009 at 4:41 am:
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    Blessed RN: I find the linkages in this confusing. First of all, when you say you “might be forced to accept their benefit package and policies. . .” do you mean that you would be forced into same sex relationships in order to get benefits? If so, I can understand your misgivings about the policies. However, if the company does not require same sex domestic partnership, but rather extends benefits to same sex domestic relationships, an increasingly frequent practice in modern businesses, especially large ones that operate in multiple jurisdictions and communities, I would think that would not be a matter of great concern to the vast majority of employees who not only are not in such relationships and would not be interested in them in any circumstances. Next, if you are not being forced into same sex relationships in order to get benefits, what is the nexus between “God and Christ” and the insurance programs offered by Novant? What actually happened? Were those terms banned for use on the floor? Were they banned in private internet communications among employees? If you’re on your yahoo account and you exchange a religious message with another employee on his or her private account, how does the Hospital management know about it? What mechanism do they use to ban the transmission? If you’re noodling around on the Hospital’s internal e-mail while my IV or oxygen have just cut off over in the ICU, I would think they should ban you talking about anything, let alone God and Christ. So what exactly is going on? The facts (which you don’t provide) could make a difference in how the rest of us assess this. Finally, in terms of providing hospital care, how, exactly, are you “different from Fairfax and other surrounding communities”? If you “turned the tide against illegal immigration” (a fact not in evidence but one which I will stipulate to, arguendo, for present purposes), why does that make a difference on religious observances or expressions either at the workplace or in whatever other context you’re referring to?

  3. Katie's Day Off said on 22 Sep 2009 at 4:55 am:
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    NOVA Scout - I think anyone would know that “forced into accepting the benefits package” does not mean they’d be forced into having a same sex relationship and you’re twisting words to make a point. What this is about is a Christian organization in which expressions of faith were once tolerated in interoffice communication and at it’s events being bought by outsiders who are now saying no. Outsiders who are saying the standards of and traditions of this organization, including acknowledging cost of living and what the market dictates people get paid in this area, no longer matter. In terms of the immigration issue and you having to stipulate - case in fact, immigrants no longer have their babies at PWH, they go to Reston, and this is because of the Help Save Manassas group and the resulting policy shifts. Our nurses in the birthing center are often sent home due to low numbers, because the community spoke out about an issue.

  4. anon in dale city said on 22 Sep 2009 at 4:59 am:
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    Thanks for this new on the war between Marxists and Christians in Manassas. Very interesting.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner said on 22 Sep 2009 at 8:25 am:
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    “Positively Marxist?” I was unaware the masses were the owners of the means of production at the PWC hospital. If you are just going to throw around terms, could you at least try to use the correct ones?

  6. Hazegray said on 22 Sep 2009 at 8:46 am:
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    Katie’s Day Off —
    You wrote that “case in fact, immigrants no longer have their babies at PWH, they go to Reston.” Do yu mean legal immigrants (in which case they shoul dbe able to use PWH) or “illegal aliens,” defined elsewhere in this blog (by federal statutes) as “alien[s] who [are] not lawfully present in the United States.”
    We all need to be very clear and precise in our language, unless you are against all immigrants — in which case 95% of us need to leave, including this writer, whose forbearers only arrived in the United States in 1847.
    Frankly, illegal aliens can have their children in the land of their parents, as far as I’m concerned. Play by the rules — welcome; break the rules — get outta here.

  7. Contrarian said on 22 Sep 2009 at 8:50 am:
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    Greg, you are in the Information Technology business. As you know, it is a business’ recognized and legal right to restrict the use of business resources (computers) to access non-business related websites and/or engage in non-business related activities (such as email). It is also normally reason for termination to do so while “on the clock”. Religious discussions and websites certainly fall within this reasonable mandate. While one might object, no legal foundations exist for any objection.

    If the folks do their jobs while they are on the clock, they won’t have any problems. If they spend their work time engaged on non-work related issues (i.e., that which is not in their job description) they should be quickly terminated. If they have moral issues about policy decisions made by their employer, they should quit. Such is the free market in a right to work state… and Conservative values.

  8. Howard the Duck said on 22 Sep 2009 at 8:51 am:
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    The WorldNetDaily site runs stories about just this sort of thing, and it would be useful if some of the affected employees contact them.


    With health care trending toward cost cutting and euthanasia, we need all the Christian health care employees we can get.

  9. Tillie said on 22 Sep 2009 at 9:12 am:
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    Quack, quack, Duck

    We need HEALTH CARE WORKERS - period - Christian or not!

  10. fed up said on 22 Sep 2009 at 9:56 am:
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    “but rather extends benefits to same sex domestic relationships, an increasingly frequent practice in modern businesses, especially large ones that operate in multiple jurisdictions and communities, I would think that would not be a matter of great concern to the vast majority of employees”

    If it results in increased insurance premiums, it might be a matter of concern to the vast majority of employees.

  11. Anonymous said on 22 Sep 2009 at 10:33 am:
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    Fed up, a larger population of customers tends to REDUCE costs.

  12. Howard the Duck said on 22 Sep 2009 at 11:00 am:
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    Tillie said on 22 Sep 2009 at 9:12 am:
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    Quack, quack, Duck

    We need HEALTH CARE WORKERS - period - Christian or not!

    Go look at the topic again. We are discussing Christian health care workers.

    Steer yourself away from emotion based reasoning.

  13. fed up said on 22 Sep 2009 at 12:24 pm:
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    “Fed up, a larger population of customers tends to REDUCE costs.”

    Only if the amount paid out in claims to those additional customers is the same as or lower than the average amount paid out to the existing customers.

    If the additional customers generate higher-than-average claims, they make the costs go up.

    That’s why your car insurance wants to drop you after you have too many DUIs and accidents.

  14. Ted said on 22 Sep 2009 at 1:19 pm:
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    I wonder if PWH has installed a filter to block any email that mentions “Obama”.

    Now that would be interesting to know.

  15. Citizen12 said on 22 Sep 2009 at 1:31 pm:
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    From the hospitals own publication

    Defining Diversity: A Glossary of Diversity Related Terms:

    Prejudice:Implies a preconceived idea, judgment, or opinion, usually an unfavorable one marked by hatred, and is directed toward a racial religious, cultural, or ethnic group.
    Judgments about others that reinforce superiority/inferiority belief systems:
    Exaggerate value/worth of a particular group while diminishing worth for other group(s).

    Then they offer this:

    This information is offered as a general guide to improve understanding and quality of care.

    Caucasian American
    Many Caucasian-Americans see themselves as the dominate group in America, even as demographics are rapidly changing. Most Caucasians of American decent do not identify themselves as Caucasian-Americans. They view themselves as “Americans” or “Christians” or “Texans” or “New Yorkers”

    Now I have no idea how having their employees accept and understand this summation is going to enable them to put me on the road to a rapid recovery. Perhaps knowing this will enable them to help heal the “inner me”.

    The wonders of modern medicine never cease to amaze me.

  16. Karla H said on 22 Sep 2009 at 4:00 pm:
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    “Fed up, a larger population of customers tends to REDUCE costs.” - anonymous

    Cost is based on supply and demand. If the demand (larger population) goes up and the supply (doctors, in this case) stays the same then the cost rises (doctors see an opportunity, and raise their rates).

    Now the cost could decrease, but only if the supply went up more than the demand (perhaps due to investors seeing an opportunity, or the increased demand leading to new, deflationary technologies, etc.).

  17. Karla H said on 22 Sep 2009 at 4:01 pm:
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    Question: Was the name “Allah” nixed as well?

  18. FED UP said on 22 Sep 2009 at 4:43 pm:
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    Hey, we have two fed ups on here. I’m all caps, but will change my name so that lower case fed up can keep it.
    You are welcome.

  19. es_la_ley said on 22 Sep 2009 at 6:17 pm:
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    Citizen12 said on 22 Sep 2009 at 1:31 pm:

    From the hospitals own publication
    [some of your post deleted for brevity]

    Caucasian American
    Many Caucasian-Americans see themselves as the dominate group in America, even as demographics are rapidly changing. Most Caucasians of American decent do not identify themselves as Caucasian-Americans. They view themselves as “Americans” or “Christians” or “Texans” or “New Yorkers”

    [Shouldn’t they mean “Americans of Caucasian decent”?]

    The Caucasian label needs to be summarily dropped. It’s way too general, and totally meaningless (unless you’re actually from the area of Europe which bears that name).

    From dictionary.com…

    “of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use.”

    I love the “no longer in technical use” part. They still use the label though. :-)

    I’m not Caucasian, nor am I white. I prefer pale-skin (which is that actual description of my skin), but that will give me troubles using it. :-)

    /end of my tirade.

  20. Pat.Herve said on 22 Sep 2009 at 9:25 pm:
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    costs do not always follow supply and demand - just look at the oil prices of the past few years.

  21. NoVA Scout said on 22 Sep 2009 at 9:59 pm:
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    KDO and Blessed Nurse are still leaving us very much in the dark as to what actually happened. Greg asks if the Hospital is anti-Christian. I don’t know why he asked that and no one has stepped forward to explain. I suspect that the hospital is no more anti-Christian than it is anti-
    buddhist or anti-Islam. I suspect it’s just a hospital. Public hospitals have their place. We’d be worse off without them. However, I don’t generally think of them as organizations whose purposes are to propagate the faith (insert whatever faith you choose). There are hospitals that have overt links to different religions and denominations. My sister was born at Christ Hospital. My Grandmother died at Good Samaritan. My father’s life was saved at Jewish Hospital. But PWCH is not a religious institution, as far as I know. What’s the problem? 20 comments have not cleared it up.

  22. I bleed Obama Blue said on 25 Sep 2009 at 1:49 pm:
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    Fed Said:

    “If the additional customers generate higher-than-average claims, they make the costs go up. That’s why your car insurance wants to drop you after you have too many DUIs and accidents.”

    It is also why your health insurance company wants to drop you when you get sick.

  23. FactCheck said on 26 Sep 2009 at 6:25 pm:
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    NoVa Scout is right. What is the issue here? Sounds like management has told employees they should not be sending out unsolicited religious messages using the company’s resources — common sense. Also sounds like they are now offering a benefits package to same-sex partners — increasingly common and supported even by many conservatives. In fact, if the compelling anecdotal evidence Greg is talking about is of the kind that Blessed RN has provided (which is all we have to go on), then it seems more likely that Blessed RN and some of his or her coworkers are the problem. Without appropriate permission, a Security Director at a public hospital should not be emailing to the entire organization a faith-based article about God and Amercia, as opposed to a security message within his or her job responsibilities. That’s sort of professional conduct 101 in a public job in a country founded on religious liberty. Despite Blessed RN’s claim that everyone appreciated it and no one had issues with it, the opposite is probably the case — some employees probably did contact management to complain about the use of hospital resources for such a purpose. The reference to the benefits package and that we’re not like other places, makes me think Blessed RN is opposed to the hospital offering benefits to same-sex partners for religious or other reasons. I’ve got to say, from the little we have it sounds like Blessed RN is the one trying to inappropriately impose her religious beliefs on others at a public hospital and that management is doing the right thing. I’ll reserve judgment, though, if Blessed RN or anyone else, can provide contrary evidence. Is the Hospital getting rid of its chapel? Telling faith workers they cannot visit patients who want to see them? Telling employees they cannot belong or practice a certain religion? From what we know so far it does not appear anyone’s religious liberty is being restricted.

  24. Dan said on 28 Sep 2009 at 7:39 am:
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    Seems like a good time to take a deep breath. Based on what Greg himself acknowledges in the post is thin anecdotal evidence, Novant Health is being accused of being both anti-Christian and Marxist. Talk about overheated, crazy rhetoric! And then we have a grab bag of completely unrelated issues such as same sex relationships and illegal immigration thrown in for good measure.

    As others have already pointed out, businesses have the right to control the use of their facilities. This includes their computers and internet connections. They have valid business and security reasons for doing this. It sometimes results in blocking of access that seems odd, but that hardly makes the business evil. Filtering content is hardly an exact science. I can provide my own anecdotal evidence of this.

    The Northern Virginia hospital where my wife worked for nearly a quarter century had (like all hospitals) internet filtering software as well as filters to block certain content from hospital e-mail accounts. My daughter, who was working for a health related non-profit at the time, sent an e-mail from her work e-mail to my wife’s hospital e-mail related to a medical issue using perfectly proper terms for various parts of the human anatomy. The e-mail was blocked. This e-mail was not the target of the filtering, but it was caught in the same net.

    At around the same time I was working for a company that had an extremely rigid internet policy. They blocked most everything. My daughter sent me an e-mail with a link to the Alzheimer’s Association. The site was blocked by my employer. Seemed laughable to me, but it was their computer and their internet connection and they had the right to block anything they pleased. I suppose I could have followed the example of this post and started complaining that my employer was PRO-Alzheimer’s and wanted people to suffer with the disease. But that would be crazy, wouldn’t it?

    Finally, I know a little bit about Novant Health. We have moved to North Carolina and my wife now works for them. My grandson was also born in one of their hospitals. They are a first class organization. When I read that Prince William had been purchased by Novant and told my wife her reaction was that it would be a great thing for Prince William. I suspect most of the employees will feel that way in time. It is natural for there to be anxiety over the changes that come with new ownership in any business. I strongly suspect that is what is behind this overheated silliness about being a bunch of anti-Christian Marxists.

    As far as Blessed RN’s statement that “PWC and Manassas are different from where they’re from” goes, I suspect you would be quite comfortable here. There seems to be a much wider presumption here that we all share the same Christian beliefs than I ever saw in Northern Virginia (including Prince William County). That goes for the area in general and for the conversations I have overheard or been part of inside Novant facilities.

  25. Karla H said on 1 Oct 2009 at 9:21 pm:
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    “costs do not always follow supply and demand - just look at the oil prices of the past few years.” Oops… that sounds like a good argument FOR socialized health care (and government instituted price controls).

    Capitalism works… up until corruption enters. Socialism doesn’t work… and it breeds corruption.

    Sounds like we must concentrate on eliminating corruption if we want to preserve our freedom (or what little of it we have left).

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