As a secular heathen ignorant of most religious matters, I don’t have too much to add to what my colleague Alexandra DeSanctis says regarding FiveThirtyEight’s bizarre panic about Catholic hospitals. I am not particularly shocked or offended by the fact that these private institutions don’t provide services that conflict with Catholic values, and if they’re sticking around and growing in rural areas when other hospitals are shutting down, well, good on them.
I did feel inspired to run down some data, though, by this comment from Stephanie Slade over at America:
For a website with a quantitative bent, FiveThirtyEight is surprisingly willing in this case to use statistics to obscure the truth. It notes, for instance, that in 45 communities in the United States, the sole hospital is a Catholic institution. The denominator in that equation—45 of how many total? 100? 10,000?—is not disclosed. The nearest the article comes to offering that kind of important context is to cite a MergerWatch report claiming that one in six hospital beds in the country is Catholic-owned or affiliated. And of those roughly 17 percent of beds, how many have non-Catholic options nearby? The authors, Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, either did not bother to find out or decided not to tell us.
Intuitively, this is roughly one rural community in each state, which can’t add up to a large percentage. And as luck would have it, the MergerWatch report FiveThirtyEight seems to have relied upon (though it identifies 46 rather than 45 communities) is online and has a few other helpful numbers.
It doesn’t tally up the total population of these communities, but it does tally up ER visits, discharges, and beds. To get a back-of-the-envelope estimate we can compare these with recent national statistics.
The report estimates the annual ER visits at these hospitals to be nearly 1.1 million. Federal numbers put the nationwide stat at 136.9 million, so about 0.8 percent of ER visits are to Catholic hospitals in places where non-Catholic alternatives are far away.
The estimate for beds is about 4,700. This is out of 894,600 registered beds nationwide: 0.5 percent.
Discharges? 219,200, out of nearly 30 million. That’s again in the ballpark of 0.8 percent.
Comparing numbers across multiple sources is always dicey, but it sure looks like this “problem” affects fewer than one in 100 Americans who go to the hospital.
Published at Fri, 27 Jul 2018 16:29:12 +0000