The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center

Archive for the ‘organizing efforts’ Category

UPDATE:

Birth Center to Remain Open, but with Remote Monitoring and Lost Accreditation

Community Challenges Hospital to Do Better

Thanks to the efforts of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center, on December 15, 2008, the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation voted against the proposed closure of the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC). However, as conditions of its continued operation, patients will no longer be permitted to receive the handheld, Doppler-based fetal monitoring that was previously in use at NSBC in accordance with national birth center accreditation guidelines.

Instead, despite their low-risk pregnancies, all NSBC patients will be subjected to remote electronic fetal monitoring (EFM), a practice that leading medical journals agree is ineffective and frequently harmful. Remote EFM will also result in a loss of NSBC’s accreditation by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC).  CABC accreditation is a strong indicator of exceptional quality of care, because it ensures the use of practices proven to be safe and effective in a birth center environment.

On December 18, 2008, six representatives of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center–Nicole Aliberte, Mira Clark, Rebecca Hains, Amy Kreydin, Sarah Shamel, and Christa Terry–met with Dr. Henry Ramini, President and CEO of Northeast Health System, and three other hospital administrators. This meeting had been rescheduled by hospital officials twice, with the result that it did not take place until after the Trustees’ December 15 vote.

At the meeting, Ramini unveiled to Campaign representatives details of the plan to change fetal monitoring practices. These details are highly problematic and deeply troubling to members of the Campaign.

Ramini explained that by the end of March 2009, patients will be monitored electronically for 20 minutes to establish a baseline upon arrival at the birth center. Subsequently, every 30 minutes, another 5- to 10-minute electronic monitoring session will occur. This electronic monitoring will be “continuously transmitted to the hospital,” where it will be remotely monitored by two hospital personnel. Without even observing the patient in question, and despite the well-documented problems of misdiagnosis via electronic fetal monitoring, those personnel  — NOT the midwives — will decide whether the patient should be transferred into the hospital. Ramini added that, in the case of a disagreement, these two “monitors”  would be able to override the midwives’ professional judgment, with a preference toward “erring on the side of overtreating the patient.”

Furthermore, when asked whether patients would be able to opt out of electronic fetal monitoring at the birth center, Dr. Ramini said no, citing fears that if refusal were permitted, all patients would opt out. However, informed refusal is a basic patient right in the state of Massachusetts and a civil right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, which protects patients from being subjected to medical procedures without their consent.

The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center decries the hospital’s legally invalid plan to routinely violate patients’ rights.

When Campaign representatives at the meeting cited respected medical studies and reports that detail the unreliability and risks of using electronic fetal monitoring, Ramini said that he “doesn’t know if it’s good or bad for patients,” but that hospital lawyers advise its use purely for legal reasons, so that the hospital could use the monitor printout in case of a lawsuit.   The Campaign representatives provided Ramini with a large binder of evidence-based studies from established medical journals and offered a summary of key points. The evidence we presented details that electronic fetal monitoring is an unacceptable medical practice for low-risk patients, because it often leads to unnecessary and dangerous interventions.  We also offered that electronic fetal monitoring can be used — and has been used, frequently and successfully — against hospitals in lawsuits, making them no less vulnerable to litigation. The attitude of the Beverly Hospital representatives was essentially this: Our minds are made up. Don’t confuse us with the facts.

The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center rejects the hospital’s plan to use remote fetal monitoring. The proposed EFM plans prioritize the hospital lawyers’ exaggerated straw-man fears of a lawsuit over maternal and fetal health and the legal rights of women to accept or reject this questionable intervention.

The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center demands that hospital officials allow the North Shore Birth Center to continue practicing well-established evidence-based care, including the continued practice of bedside, non-remote fetal monitoring by a handheld doppler monitor, which is widely used state-of-the-art equipment.

Our stance may be summarized thus:

1. To subject women and their babies to a form of fetal monitoring known to unnecessarily increase the c-section rate, when a more effective and safer form of fetal monitoring is already in place, is unacceptable.

2. To have medical personnel who are in a separate building hundreds of yards away determine the fate of low-risk women and their healthy babies, overriding the professional judgment of our midwives, is unacceptable.

3. To prioritize legal fears over maternal and fetal health is unacceptable.

4. To violate basic Massachusetts’ patient rights and constitutional rights regarding informed consent and informed refusal is unacceptable.

5. To institute a practice that will cause NSBC, which has held the gold standard of CABC accreditation for years, to lose its accreditation is unacceptable.

HELP US SAVE NSBC!

Here’s what you can do to help save the North Shore Birth Center and its clients from the dangerous and unethical new protocols planned by the hospital:

1. Write letters to Beverly Hospital administrators and its Board of Trustees speaking out against these plans. In our meeting with administrators on December 18, they suggested that members of the community would not be troubled by these plans. They said there has been a change in the culture regarding what patients want, and that because of this context, changes to birth center’s long-standing practices would be acceptable to the community. Let’s flood them with letters again, sending the clear message that they’re wrong!

In addition to the trustees (whose contact information is available here ), please copy your letters to the administrators who attended the December 18 meeting: Dr. Henry Ramini, President and CEO; Chip Peyson, Vice President of External Affairs; Pauline Pike, Chief Operating Officer; and Heather Jones, Director of Community and Public Relations.

2. Send letters to the editor of your local and regional newspapers. Let them know about the Campaign’s continuance and the reasons why we have to keep fighting.

In writing your letters, note that the hospital’s December 15 statement to the media made it sound as though the practice of fetal monitoring would be new to the birth center. (It stated: “The Board recognizes the national trend of birth center closings due to rising costs and has decided to take a proactive approach and modify how care will be delivered at the Birth Center.  Patients delivering at the Birth Center will now receive fetal monitoring during their delivery.”) News articles appearing on this topic have presented this misleading statement as fact. Correct them: Let the media know that fetal monitoring was already in use at the birth center — appropriate bedside fetal monitoring with a handheld Doppler, which, in fact, you most likely experienced at your own NSBC birth — and that you prefer this safer, handheld fetal monitor to the remote electronic fetal monitor that the hospital is forcing NSBC to use, beginning this spring.

Useful tips for writing successful letters to the editor are available here.

3. Contact your legislators, both local and state. Let them know that Beverly Hospital is planning to violate your rights as a patient in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by denying you informed consent and informed refusal if you give birth at the birth center! Ask them to intervene in any way possible.  Make sure you point out that birth center services using only handheld monitors are far less expensive than hospital services using costly and unnecessary technology. This hospital will have to find the money to pay for these new remote monitors somehow. The extra, unnecessary personnel supervising NSBC births from a separate building will increase costs, as well. Should Massachusetts’ new health plan be further strained by higher costs such as these?

Tips for locating and writing to your legislators may be found here.

4.   Keep your focus where it belongs, on safety. Our interest in maintaining birth center accreditation and appropriate monitoring methods is not because we merely want a “nice experience” at the birth center.  Hospital representatives at the December 18 meeting strongly implied that all the Campaign really cared about was the low-tech, gentler “experience” of birth center birth. This paternalistic, condescending attitude has misread the basis for our concerns and couldn’t be more wrong.  We are intelligent, educated women who understand the difference between real evidence-based safey measure and the hospital’s defensive use of expensive and self-serving unnecessary interventions.

Together, we’ve already won a major battle in the fight to save our birth center. Let’s not stop now–let’s win a reversal of the hospital’s plans to require remote fetal monitoring and violate patients’ rights!

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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!

The North Shore Birth Center is in jeopardy!

There is a very serious move to close the North Shore Birth Center, a midwifery practice situated on the campus of Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation considered the proposal to close the Birth Center. During that early-morning meeting, nearly 200 people–adults, children, and babies–bundled up against the cold and held a rally. This rally advocated for the same things as previous efforts, which included a letter-writing campaign, daily picketing, and an open letter to the Board:

  1. A delay of the vote on the Birth Center’s fate, since such an important decision with long-term consequences for our community should not be rushed, and
  2. A meeting between community members and the Board of Trustees, to seek more transparency about the Hospital’s concerns and to open some dialogue that would allow the community–which had thus far felt silenced by hospital administration, which refused to communicate with representatives of our campaign–a real voice in this decision.

Featuring energetic speakers, colorful signs, and lots of cheering, the rally outside of Beverly Hospital made headlines: All the major Boston television stations, newspapers, and radio stations covered the story.

Several hours after the Board of Trustees met, the hospital released the following four-sentence statement.

The Board of Trustees takes its responsibilities to this organization and to the community very seriously.

Consistent with other birth centers around the nation, the North Shore Birth Center is experiencing a significant rise in the cost of malpractice insurance premiums.

The Board of Trustees is diligently weighing the impact that the closure of the Birth Center would have on the community; the level of community interest in its continued operation has not gone unnoticed. The Board intends to leave the Birth Center services unchanged while it continues to examine and discuss this important issue.

In other words, our rally and other efforts were a success! The Board of Trustees recognized the need to move slowly and give the proposal full deliberation.

However, we are not out of the woods yet. As the Boston Globe points out, this statement “ma[kes] it clear that the center’s future is still very much in question.” We still need your help!

Help us save NSBC!

The members of this group are against this proposal and want the Board of Trustees to vote against it. Women deserve to choose the birth experience that is right for them and their families. We ask the Board of Trustees to refrain from making a decision that would deny this choice to families of the North Shore.

NSBC is one of only two birth centers left in the entire state of Massachusetts! Let’s work together to protect it!

ABOUT THE NSBC: Established in 1980, the North Shore Birth Center has facilitated the births of over 6,000 babies to women with “low-risk” pregnancies seeking a natural childbirth. We want the North Shore Birth Center to continue offering quality, compassionate care in an alternative birth setting.

Join the Campaign to help us make our case to the Board of Trustees and hospital administration.

We are now in the process of planning Phase Two of our campaign. We will update this page with information on how you can help as soon as possible. In the meantime, see these links to learn more about our efforts:

Ongoing initiatives:

How to stay informed:

Media coverage:

Blogging coverage:

Please note: The members of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center are not affiliated with the North Shore Birth Center or Beverly Hospital. We are consumers who care passionately about NSBC!

Last Update: Wednesday, November 21, 9:09 a.m.

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!

GETTING READY:

* 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!

IMPORTANT GUIDELINES FOR RALLY DAY:

* 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.

PARKING SUGGESTIONS:

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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

* 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 Cleansehhc@aol.com and Annalisa annalisa_walker@hotmail.com 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.

THANK YOU FOR PLANNING TO COME OUT TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!

SEND NEWS TIPS TO:

The Globe: newstip@globe.com

The Herald: http://www.bostonherald.com/about/contact/news_tip.bg

WBUR: http://www.wbur.org/contactus/

WGBH: http://www.wgbh.org/contact/

WHDH Boston: 1-800-280-TIPS / newstips@whdh.com / viewer_news@whdh.com

WBZTV: 877-WBZ-TIPS / http://wbztv.com/contact / newstips@wbztv.com

WCVB: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/newscenter5/index.html

FOX25: http://www.myfoxboston.com/myfox/pages/InsideFox/ContactUs?pageId=5.11

Daily Item of Lynn: contactus@itemlive.com

Daily News of Newburyport: svartabedian@newburyportnews.com (Sonya Vartabedian )

Gloucester Daily Times: rlamont@gloucestertimes.com (Raymond Lamont) / jpope@gloucestertimes.com (Jeff Pope) / 978-283-7000

Peabody & Lynnfield Weekly News: bcurtin@weeklynews.net (Robert Curtin) / 978-532-5880

You can find the info for the various cnc papers at http://www.wickedlocal.com
(click on Towns & Newspapers, then select the town, and ‘contact us’)

Skirt!: Alison O’Leary Murray, Editor alisonm@skirtboston.com

Phoenix: Send letters to the editor, press releases, and article commentary to letters@phx.com

Dig: laura@weeklydig.com

River 92.5: info@wxrv.com

We have some great plans leading up to the November 18 Board of Trustees meeting. Please consider helping our cause by serving as a volunteer coordinator for one of the following areas:

  • Poster making
  • Flyer distribution
  • Picketing efforts
  • The Nov. 18 rally

Volunteer coordinators would need to be available by phone and email to guide the efforts of those volunteering to execute the above tasks.

To learn more, please email us at SaveTheNorthShoreBirthCenter AT gmail DOT com. Thanks!

Stacy writes:

A small group of us are getting together to write our letters. My hope is it will be motivating and inspirational. The North Shore Birth Center has touched all our lives. The midwives need us. Please join us!

WHEN: Sunday November 9th at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: the Parish House adjoining the Orthodox Congregational Church of Lanesville. 1120 Washington St. in Gloucester.

INFO: Please e-mail me with questions, concerns and/or suggestions. salstacy AT hotmail DOT com

The North Shore Birth Center is in jeopardy!

There is a very serious move to stop all births at the North Shore Birth Center, a midwifery practice situated on the campus of Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Massachusetts.

On November 18, 2008, the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation will consider a proposal to no longer allow women to labor or birth at the Birth Center. (This proposal did not originate from the Board; it is being brought before them by hospital management.) If the Board approves this proposal, all birth center patients would be required to labor and birth at Beverly Hospital.

Help us save NSBC!

The members of this group are against this proposal and want the Board of Trustees to vote against it. Women deserve to choose the birth experience that is right for them and their families. We ask the Board of Trustees to refrain from making a decision that would deny this choice to families of the North Shore.

NSBC is one of only two birth centers left in the entire state of Massachusetts! Let’s work together to protect it!

ABOUT THE NSBC: Established in 1980, the North Shore Birth Center has facilitated the births of over 6,000 babies to women with “low-risk” pregnancies seeking a natural childbirth. We want the North Shore Birth Center to continue offering quality, compassionate care in an alternative birth setting.

Join the Campaign to help us make our case to the Board of Trustees. More information will be available as we receive it!

Please note: The members of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center are not affiliated with the North Shore Birth Center or Beverly Hospital. We are consumers who care passionately about NSBC!

Last Update: Wednesday, November 19, 9:05 a.m.


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