The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center

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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.


What: A meeting to discuss our plans moving forward in support of the North Shore Birth Center

Where: The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, 225 Cabot St. Beverly MA

Note: There is a public parking lot behind the church off of Hale Street/Briscoe Street. People will need to enter the back door, on Essex Street/Briscoe Street. The front door will be locked. If the back door is locked, ring the bell. The meeting will take place upstairs in the sanctuary.

When: Sunday, November 23rd from 2 to 3:45 pm

Please come and share your ideas! We need YOUR help to save the Birth Center!

It’s been so wonderful to read all of the letters of support pouring into the local newspapers. As much as the campaign loves media coverage in the form of newspaper articles, the letters you’ve written really help to raise awareness in the larger community. After all, who doesn’t like reading the letters section of the paper?

Here are some highlights, all from recent editions of the Salem News.

From Robin E. Rubin, MSN, CPNP:

Our community is so lucky to have not only the exceptional midwives who practice at the North Shore Birth Center, but the facility itself.

The North Shore Birth Center is more than just an “alternative” building to deliver babies. It is truly an extended family of dedicated certified nurse midwives, support staff, and other like-minded parents. I truly believe that if the North Shore Birth Center is no longer allowed to birth babies, these mothers are not going to willingly go to Beverly Hospital to birth instead. They will choose home birth. I know I will.

From Eileen Tran:

Every woman chooses to deliver her baby differently and there is no “right” way that works for all. I hope that the Northeast Health Corporation will continue to give the women of the North Shore the option to deliver their babies in the best way for them.

Please continue to support births at the Birth Center as a safe option to the women of the North Shore.

From Jennifer Barrows Fox:

Without the North Shore Birth Center, many women may choose to labor at home and not have access to the clear thinking and quick action that the midwives used to get my son breathing quickly enough to avoid any long-term damage.

I ask the Beverly Hospital trustees to vote to allow the Birth Center to continue to offer labor and delivery at the center. It would be a shame for women to lose the North Shore Birth Center as an option.

Get ready for the Save the North Shore Birth Center rally – Tomorrow, 6:15am!!!

Gather with us to ask the Board of Trustees to hear our pleas to save the North Shore Birth Center! This will be a peaceful, non-confrontational gathering to show our community support of the Birth Center and its commitment to safe, natural birth.

We are expecting hundreds of supporters. Bring all your friends and family! Children welcome!

Based on the response we have received about the Rally, we are now asking people to arrive in the area promptly by 6:15am, allowing yourself enough time to park on side streets and walk over to the Herrick Street sidewalk in front if the hospital grounds. Board members meet at 7 a.m. and we want them to see our HUGE crowd as they arrive!


* Consider bringing your own sign, backed by cardboard if possible, with messages such as “Save the Birth Center” (or come up with your own!)
* Consider making a t-shirt that reads “Birth Center Baby” for any babes/kids who will be joining you who were born at the Birth Center. Make it large, to fit over warm outerwear!


* Dress warmly – forecast is for 30 degree temps in the morning.
* Park on surrounding street, NOT on hospital grounds.
* Children are very welcome, but watch them closely on this busy street!
* Gather on the Herrick Street sidewalk, NOT on hospital grounds.
* Check in when you arrive. Organizers will be holding balloons to identify them.


Curbside parking is available on many of the residential streets near the hospital. Possibilities include Heather St, Story Ave (from Henderson to Colon), and Henderson Ave. The side streets between Cabot Street and Sohier Road are also an option, including Lyman St, Mason St, and Swan St. Please DO NOT park on hospital property.


* BE THERE, with as many friends and relatives as possible!
* SHARE this rally information with all who might be interested.
* BRING your own SIGN. (We will have some to share but the more the better!)
* VOLUNTEER to help with crowd control at the rally. Email Deb and Annalisa to sign up. Men especially encouraged!
* INVENT CHEERS in support of the Birth Center.
* LEAD CHEERS during the rally.
* BRING something FUN to share with some of the KIDS at the rally (suggestions: cups of cocoa or cider, sidewalk chalk, stickers, “Birth Center Baby” signs).
* FLOOD THE MEDIA with tips today. Tip lines listed below.



The Globe:

The Herald:



WHDH Boston: 1-800-280-TIPS / /




Daily Item of Lynn:

Daily News of Newburyport: (Sonya Vartabedian )

Gloucester Daily Times: (Raymond Lamont) / (Jeff Pope) / 978-283-7000

Peabody & Lynnfield Weekly News: (Robert Curtin) / 978-532-5880

You can find the info for the various cnc papers at
(click on Towns & Newspapers, then select the town, and ‘contact us’)

Skirt!: Alison O’Leary Murray, Editor

Phoenix: Send letters to the editor, press releases, and article commentary to


River 92.5:

Even though this morning’s picketing shift was a little dicey — it rained, then stopped, then rained, then stopped, etc. — we did have four grownups and two little ones out there in the wet. We survived, the signs survived…but I’m not sorry that I suggested people stay home.

Just so you know, picketing is still happening, and we’re still getting plenty of positive attention from hospital staff and community members in the forms of honks, waves, smiles, and the occasional request for more info.

Here are two of the picketing pictures that recently appeared in the Danvers Herald and the Boston Globe:

Picketing to save the North Shore Birth Center

Picketing to save the North Shore Birth Center

A photog from the Globe came out to yesterday’s lunchtime picketing session, and the picture she took is in today’s Boston Globe along with an accompanying article written by Kay Lazar and Steven Rosenberg.

Here’s a highlight:

The controversy comes amid a larger debate in the medical and legal communities about maternity care and high medical malpractice insurance premiums paid by hospitals and doctors. Concern about malpractice lawsuits has prompted physicians nationwide to become hyper-cautious, and that has driven up the numbers nationwide of more controlled, caesarean section births.

But C-sections can expose women to serious complications, according to studies cited in a Nov. 11 letter to trustees and cosigned by Eugene Declercq, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.

“Defensive practices in obstetrics unfortunately have encouraged practices that evidence shows are harmful or provide no benefits,” stated the letter, which urged board members to keep the center open.

The MOMformation blog at BabyCenter has picked up our story!

A spokesperson from the birth center stated that “As with other birth centers around the nation, North Shore Birth Center is experiencing a significant rise in the cost of malpractice insurance premiums.” It appears that this is what’s driving the discussions of possible closure.

How important is it to you that facilities like the North Shore Birth Center are available to women? Is this a cause that you would support – if not in-person, than via the social networking tools that are available to us now?

Drop by BabyCenter, read the post, comment on it, and let jamie lee know that we appreciate her sharing our story!

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