REDMOND, OR -- St. Charles Health System’s Board of Directors voted Friday to close the Family Birthing Center in Redmond next summer; but officials didn’t tell staff until Monday. Mayor George Endicott, who was vocally opposed to the proposal to close the center, says he got a call from the President of the Redmond hospital just before the announcement went public, "The justification was a repeat of what we heard at the Council meeting, the other night. I went to the birthing center to meet with the nursing staff to discuss the decision and situation. I guess they are still trying to digest what they heard."
The decision comes after 10 months of work by a St. Charles task force to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, as well as efforts by city officials, hospital staff and patients to keep it open. Mayor Endicott tells KBND News he's disappointed, "You know, they throw statistics at you. But, people aren’t statistics; people are people. We care about the convenience and the safety for expecting mothers." He adds, "I mean, obviously I’ve never been pregnant, but from what women tell me, when you go into hard labor, you want service and you don’t want to have to drive an extra half hour." But St. Charles OB/GYN and Clinical Director Dr. Barbara Newman says it was not an easy decision and she doesn’t believe women nor babies will be put at risk. She says studies show even an hour drive is considered safe, "The number of unplanned deliveries that happen on the side of the road, that people are worried about, are not as common as you might think. Last year, Redmond had five precipitous deliveries." She acknowledges that "people aren't statistics," but says, "In talking about all this, you do have to have some statistics and some data and some numbers to make intelligent discussions."
Dr. Newman says closing the center will allow for greater regional resources, including maintaining the Redmond Women's Clinic, "Our clinic stays there, our surgery stays there, our commitment to our patients and the community stays there. We’re looking at enhanced services for the Center for Women’s Health that’s in Redmond, right now. We’ll still be doing prenatal care there; we’ll still be doing post-natal care, there." Labor and delivery services will be consolidated at St. Charles Bend, where the health system plans to create an obstetric hospitalist program and midwifery services. Officials also say resources will be provided at the Madras birth center to enhance nursing skill and education.
St. Charles Chief Operating Officer Iman Simmons says over the next nine months, the health system will develop a transition and communication plan, "And that will include key partners, like the obstetricians, the Emergency Department providers and caregivers, our local EMS and Fire patient transporter partners." Simmons also says caregivers in Redmond's Family Birthing Center will be given "every opportunity to move into a job they feel good about." She insists no one will lose their job.
Mayor Endicott is still concerned about the overall impact on the community, "There’s 29 people that service our community out there. For the mothers, it’s a matter of convenience, here in Redmond."