REDMOND, OR -- St. Charles Health System is considering how to address the rising cost of giving birth at the Bend and Redmond hospitals, and decreased efficiencies. Chief Operations Officer Iman Simmons says a group of experts has studied the issue for the last 10 months, "The task force is charged with how to provide those services in a higher quality way, a safer way that also reduces the cost of care to the patient. And, they came out with three proposals; one of those proposals includes combining the Redmond and Bend birth centers." One of those options would close the Redmond Birthing Center, but keep the St. Charles women’s clinic in Redmond for out-patient services; a second would consolidate both departments into Bend’s. The third option would keep the birthing center, but only for low-risk deliveries. She stresses that none of the proposals involve any lay-offs.
Last year, about 500 babies were born at the Redmond hospital, but she says Redmond and Bend birthing centers are consistently less than 50% full. According to Simmons, a big contributing factor in the reduced efficiency and rising cost of deliveries is that fewer babies are being born, despite the rapid growth of Central Oregon’s population, "If you look at the demographics, it’s not families of child-birth age that are growing; it’s an older population. Births are going down nationally, and I believe the data for Central Oregon is that our births are down 9%. We love babies and we would love for more to be born." She acknowledges it would be a loss to the community, but for patients looking for a more intimate birthing experience, Simmons says the Madras hospital is still an option, and its birthing center could be enhanced through the shifting of services.
Simmons says a final decision on which direction to take the Redmond facility is still months away and likely won't impact current pregnant moms, "At this stage of the game the recommendations are just proposals, and we are going to be studying them and then moving forward with a final recommendation as soon as we can do the serious contemplation and studying of what are the implications of those proposals."