REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors will discuss next week how to work with St. Charles Health System, in response to a proposal to close the Family Birthing Center at the Redmond hospital. Mayor George Endicott says he has drafted a resolution to apply pressure on hospital leaders, "Regardless of the organization, if there is enough of a public outcry, they are going to listen." He acknowledges it's unusual for the city to get involved in decisions made by private companies but, he tells KBND News, this is different, "Because it's a public good. The fact that - in this case, women - but families in general, want to have a place that they feel comfortable, that's close, that's convenient, that has a first-class quality staff to serve them. And, that's what this is all about. I mean, reducing services for such a critical issue is just unacceptable." Click HERE to view the full resolution to be considered at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
At a candidate forum Thursday, Mayor Endicott and his opponent in the November election, former Mayor and local attorney Ed Fitch, fielded questions about the St. Charles proposal. Both agree the center should remain open. Fitch told the crowd, "From my perspective, I think we need to break the monopoly of St. Charles. My recommendation is that we start a discussion about getting the hospital here back from St. Charles, and partner with a regional partner, like Providence. We need competition in healthcare in Central Oregon." He was part of the legal team involved in the 2000 merger, when St. Charles took over the Redmond hospital. He says losing the birthing center violates the spirit of that agreement. Endicott and Fitch both say the community believed the health system would enhance healthcare in the community, not limit services.
The St. Charles Board is expected to decide before the end of the year whether to merge Redmond and Bend birthing centers at the Bend hospital. Earlier this week, several community members joined St. Charles Redmond nurses and other staff to rally in opposition of the proposal.