The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center

New Press Release: North Shore Birth Center to Remain Open

Posted on: December 16, 2008

Northeast Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees Approves
Plan to Continue Birth Center Operations, But Questions Remain

BEVERLY, MA (December 16, 2008)—In response to the Board of Trustees of Northeast Hospital Corporation announcement that they have approved a plan to keep the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC) open, members of the Campaign to Save the NSBC are cautiously pleased by this major victory on behalf of mothers, fathers, babies, and the North Shore population. Beverly Hospital has listened to the will of the community, and the Campaign applauds their decision insofar as it relates to keeping the NSBC operational.

However, the Campaign members decry the lack of transparency and lack of direct communication that has been the hallmark of the Board’s and the Hospital administration’s actions since the threat to the NSBC was brought to the attention of the public.

“Although hospital administrators had promised to more openly communicate with us, we learned of this decision indirectly, from the press,” explains Campaign leader Rebecca Hains. “Furthermore, although hospital administrators agreed to meet with representatives of our campaign, they have repeatedly rescheduled that meeting, and they arrived at this decision without having the conversation we were promised. Therefore, many of the community’s concerns and questions remain unanswered.”

For example, the Campaign is concerned by the portion of the Hospital’s announcement that appears to add a new constraint to NSBC deliveries: In their statement to the press, the Hospital notes hat patients will receive fetal monitoring, although the precise type of monitoring remains unclear. Patients birthing at Beverly hospital are subject to electronic fetal monitoring, an unproven and essentially unnecessary technology. NSBC patients have always received intermittent fetal monitoring by handheld Doppler, as is recommended as the best practice by the American Association of Birth Centers and many leading academic studies.

The Campaign urges the Hospital to allow the NSBC to continue using intermittent fetal monitoring, rather than subject women seeking natural childbirth to the restrictive and problematic electronic fetal monitoring system.

In fact, prior to this decision, the Campaign and several experts in the field of maternity care have provided information to the Board that demonstrates that there is NO evidentiary basis for requiring electronic fetal monitoring and that the practice has NO proven benefit but, rather, great potential for harm because it leads to higher cesarean-section rates. Furthermore, the Campaign feels very strongly that every woman who gives birth at the NSBC must have complete freedom to make an informed decision about whether or not she will agree to or opt out of electronic fetal monitoring.

“Instead of choosing to move all births to the hospital, the board has voted to move aspects of the hospital to the NSBC. I am concerned that, although they heard the community’s message: ‘Keep the birth center open,’ they missed the underlying reasoning: we want an alternative that is different!” says Campaign Steering Committee member Sarah Shamel.

Furthermore, the Campaign is concerned that the NSBC will be at risk of losing its accreditation by the highly-respected Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (“CABC”) if electronic fetal monitoring is required. The Campaign is also greatly troubled about the possibility of additional limitations being imposed on the NSBC in the future.

Although the Board may have come to a decision, the Campaign remains intent on meeting with interim CEO Henry Ramini, Chief Operating Officer Pauline Pike, and Vice President Chip Payson on December 18, as previously scheduled, to make sure that the voice of the community is heard by its local hospital and to demand increased transparency in hospital decision-making.

Media inquiries should be directed to Christa Terry at christadterry at gmail dot com.

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