The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center

Share Your Letters

A thoughtful letter written by a NSBC client:

To the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health System:

I am writing to you in light of the news that a proposal will be made to you on November 18th, 2008, that women will no longer to be able to labor and birth at the North Shore Birth Center. This proposal, were it to pass, I feel would be a great disservice to women looking for a real choice in where and how they birth.

I recently gave birth to my daughter at the North Shore Birth Center on August 1st, 2008. While I had had a tour of the labor and delivery area during my 36 week meeting there and thought that as far as hospitals went, it looked very nice, that tour only reinforced my feeling that I had made the right choice to birth at the NSBC. Very knowledgeable midwives staff the Birth Center, and the environment is calm and inviting, similar to that of a nice, cozy home. My daughter’s birth was powerful and intense, and I felt completely at ease in the care of Eva Wax and Debbie Black. Had I been forced to birth in the hospital, despite me being low risk, I feel strongly that it would have impacted my labor and birth negatively, opening me up for interventions that would have been completely unnecessary otherwise.

If I had really wanted a hospital birth, I could have gone to a more local hospital to me, Lawrence General. However, neither their philosophy of medicalized birth nor their setup appealed to me in any way. Making the drive from North Andover to Beverly was very much worth it. I know that other people from much further away also make the drive during labor for the express purpose of birthing at the Birth Center.

There are only 2 bona fide birth centers currently in MA, and while they are not for every woman, those who are low-risk and who desire a natural birth above all else deserve to have the choice to birth where they wish. Closing the birth center would either encourage more women to birth at home (a valid option in its own right, though getting insurance to cover homebirth is tricky at best), or to drive to one of the birth centers in New Hampshire. Either way, business would decline at the Birth Center, and ultimately Beverly Hospital.

Birthing at the Birth Center was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Please do NOT take away that choice for other women in Massachusetts. Besides being cost effective in this age of skyrocketing health care costs, women who are low risk need CHOICE in how they birth.

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39 Responses to "Share Your Letters"

To the Board of Trustees Northeast Health Corporation:

I am deeply saddened to hear that the Birth Center of Beverly Hospital is in danger of being closed. I ask that you consider the importance of this establishment to the many women of the North Shore who have chosen this center as the best place for them to labor and birth their babies. I am personally so grateful to have had the opportunity to give birth to my first baby in such a comfortable, caring environment where the midwives listened to my birth preferences and supported my desire for a natural birth.

I chose to give birth with the midwives at the Birth Center for a variety of reasons. I had always thought I would give birth in a hospital, but when I started reading about the various options for childbirth, I felt strongly that a natural, water birth was the best choice for our baby. I wanted to give birth in a peaceful, home-like setting. Other mothers who had given birth with the midwives of the Birth Center highly recommended it to me, and from my first meeting with the midwives I felt comfortable and supported there.

My daughter was born by water birth at the Birth Center after a mere four hours of labor (thanks to the midwife-recommended hypnobirthing classes) on September 24, 2007. She was birthed into a quiet, dimly lit room where she was allowed to remain in our arms throughout our entire stay. She spent her first night in this world laying close between my husband and myself in the large bed in the room where she was birthed. The care of the midwives for myself and my baby was so precious to me as I began my journey as a mother.

While the hospital is certainly a fine choice for many women, it is not a place where I would choose to give birth. My husband and I attended the 36 week hospital orientation and it just solidified my decision to give birth at the Birth Center. I walked away from the hospital that night knowing that I had made the right choice for my daughter.

I am asking you to please consider how important it is for women to have the option to give birth in a setting other than the hospital. Please know how much this Birth Center means to me and to other women who are grateful to have the choice to labor and birth there. Please vote to keep the Birth Center in operation so that I will have the option to birth there again and so that other women can choose to start their birth story there.

Sincerely,
Bryn Brunner

To the Board of Trustees Northeast Health Corporation,

I am compelled to write in support of the North Shore Birth Center. I was terribly saddened to hear that there could be any talk of limiting women’s choices when it comes to their birth preferences. The North Shore Birth Center is one of only 2 options I know of in all of Massachusetts that caters to the desires of women to birth their babies under the care of certified nurse midwives in a free-standing birth center.

I welcomed both of my beautiful children into the world in the comforting environment of the North Shore Birth Center. For my first child, I began my care elsewhere (under the care of midwives who delivered at my local hospital). As my delivery date approached, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the notion of birthing my baby in a hospital. It just did not feel right for me and my baby. In seeking a more intimate and personal birthing experience, I came across the Birth Center in Beverly. While it was a further drive for my family (coming from Bradford), it was well worth any inconvenience in drive to receive the quality care we received in the environment in which we received it.

With a hospital birth, I didn’t like the thought of intrusiveness of numerous and rotating hospital staff, ambient hospital noises, and an unfamiliar medical environment. Having my birth at the birth center gave me the feeling of a home birth, without the worry of needing to travel far to a hospital if any complications were to arise. The private room, with a bed large enough for both my husband and I, made my labor more comfortable. I was at ease, and I was able to have a natural child birth with both of my children despite having long labors (and a 9lb 11 oz daughter!). It was extremely empowering to give birth with just my husband and 2 special midwives at my side. The moments after the births were equally powerful. We were able to simply hold our freshly-born babies in our arms for hours in the peace and solitude only the birth center could provide.

I specifically chose the North Shore Birth Center because of the opportunity to birth in a free-standing birth center. If it weren’t for that point, I could have chosen several other hospitals (which provide midwifery care) that would have been much more convenient for me.

My births at the Birth Center gave me the two best days of my life…nothing can compare to the joy of holding your baby in your arms for the first time. I thank the wonderful care I received at the birth center for their part in making me be twice blessed with two healthy babies!

Sincerely,

Julie Pollock

A letter sent by Lorrie Ann…

Dear Members of the Northeast Health Corporation’s Board of Trustees:

Please use this letter as a sign of support for the full services of the North Shore Birth Center.

I first learned of the North Shore Birth Center when I became a Beverly Hospital Volunteer in 8th Grade. For the four years that I volunteered at Beverly Hospital I would see the door of the North Shore Birth Center open and I knew that when it was my time to start a family I wanted it to begin in the welcoming atmosphere of the North Shore Birth Center. Now, twelve years later, I am starting a family and have been receiving exceptional prenatal care from the midwives at the Center since June 2008.

In preparing for the birth of my daughter in February 2009, I have been envisioning my labor and birth in the comfort of the home-like birthing rooms of the North Shore Birth Center. My mothering instincts have arrived before my baby, thus, I know a natural and calm birth is the safest start I can give my daughter on her birthday. Please allow me the opportunity to live out the peaceful birth that I know is possible only at the North Shore Birth Center.

Based on your decision on November 18, I hope that I will be able to write you a follow up letter describing the most memorable and unique experience of my daughter’s birth at the North Shore Birth Center.

Sincerely,

Lorrie Ann

A letter sent by Julia…

Dear Board of Trustees,

I am writing this letter to express my support for continuing to offer labor & birth at the North Shore Birth Center.

I delivered three of my children there. Liam in 2003, Tristan in 2005 and Colin this past July. Our son Alec was born at Beth Israel in 2002. While I could not have asked for a better experience in a hospital setting, I found the NSBC to be much more satisfying and empowering for me.

The home like atmosphere, the freedom to move around, the minimal distractions, the comfort of the tub, and the ease & grace of the midwives are just a few of the reasons why I am so pleased I birthed my children there.

Had I not had the option of birthing at the NSBC, I would not have delivered at Beverly Hospital. There are other hospitals closer to my home that I would have gone to as well as other OB/GYN offices for my prenatal care.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful the midwives are. When I was pregnant with my third child Tristan, I was still grieving deeply for the sudden death of our son, Alec. While from a physical perspective my pregnancy was going fine, it was very tough emotionally. I found the support I received from the midwives during this difficult time to be incredibly compassionate and nurturing. It meant a lot to me and I was grateful that I could deliver Tristan in an environment that was filled with warmth and love.

So I ask you to please consider keeping the birthing option available at the NSBC. I think eliminating that option does a serious disservice to the women of our community who want to birth their children in a setting that is safe and supportive of natural childbirth.

Sincerely,

Julia Ross

Dear Northeast Health Corporation Board of Trustees:

On November 18th, 2008 you are going to deliberate on a decision to no longer allow women to give birth at the North Shore Birth Center. We plead that you decide against this measure.

As the Beverly Hospital is moving to a unified model of health care, please consider that giving birth is not always a medical procedure. Every childbirth is a unique natural process and the same rules do not apply to each family.

Please consider these reasons why women decide to give birth at the North Shore Birth Center:

• These women have “low-risk” pregnancies and thus do not require a close hospital supervision, which in turn provides more available resources for the “high-risk” women

• They choose the Birth Center to welcome their baby in an intimate, quiet and peaceful place

• These women want to use the gift given to them by nature to give birth without the use of medications and invasive technological tools often provided during hospital births (women gave birth this way for thousands of years).

• These women feel safe under the attention of knowledgeable, caring and dedicated midwives.

• These women know how fortunate they are to give birth in one of the two birth centers currently standing in Massachusetts.

I had the privilege of giving birth at the Birth Center in December of 2005. After a visit to the hospital closest to our house in a neighboring town, my husband and I were not impressed with the facilities and more importantly did not get a reassuring feeling that we would be comfortable during and after the birth at that facility. After touring the Birth Center a few weeks later, we knew this was the right place for us to expand our family. That decision was certainly the right one as we had the best pre-natal, birthing and post-natal care experience we could have possibly envisioned.

Without a single doubt, we planned on having our second child at the Birth Center and we will be devastated if that option will be taken away from us. We hope that you give your permission to let the North Shore Birth Center serve women who choose an alternative childbirth setting that is right for their family.

Sincerely,

Elena Venuti

To the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health System,

I have recently been made aware of a proposal that would no longer allow women to labor and birth at the North Shore Birth Center. I believe that this proposal would do a tremendous disservice to women in our community, as it so severely limits how and where they birth their children.

I chose to have my second child at the North Shore Birth Center for a variety of reasons. I knew that I wanted midwife care, which supports my belief that pregnancy and birth are normal natural events, not illnesses. I knew that barring medical necessity, I did not want to be subjected to the routine interventions that are part of a hospital birth. My first birth was a hospital birth simply because there were no other options available to me where I lived at the time. I had wanted a natural, un-medicated birth. The ‘routine procedures’ that the hospital imposed on me such as IV’s, continuous electronic monitoring, and withholding food inhibited the natural progression of my labor. After 24 hours of labor and no food, I finally consented to an epidural. Once my daughter was born, she was whisked away for non-emergency newborn care for the first 2 hours, although she was perfectly healthy.
Due to this experience, and after considerable research on the safety of midwifery care and birth centers, I desired to have a water-birth, preferable in a birth center. In researching the different options in the area, I found that the Birth Center was the only place I could both labor and birth in the water. No other hospital or facility in close proximity offered this. Furthermore, the North Shore Birth Center is one of only two birth centers in Massachusetts. Although it was not the closest option, I loved the Birth Center’s cozy home-like environment, and my in-laws were comforted by the Hospital being so close. The midwives provided competent and compassionate care, throughout my pregnancy. My son Bridger was born on September 15, 2008 at the North Shore Birth Center. It was a profoundly empowering and joyful experience for my whole family, many of whom had never been exposed to natural birth. My midwife was with me for the entirety of my labor, and once Bridger was born I had the ability to hold him and bond with him for my entire stay at the center, his newborn care being performed while I held him. We were able to go home that afternoon. I firmly believe that although I could have had a healthy baby in any hospital, it would not have been the life-changing experience I had at the Birth Center. Every family deserves to have the opportunity to choose this kind of birth.

On November 18, 2008 please vote to preserve the Birth Center as it operates today, and to protect our community’s birth choices.

Sincerely,
Mira Clark

Letter sent to each board member- addressed to each of them personally, with an enclosed picture of my son.

On June 28th, 2006 I gave birth to my first child at the Northshore Birth Center. My birth experience was everything I had hoped for. The midwivess were experts in their field. They knew when to encourage, when to lay low and when to take charge. At my side was not only my husband, but my mother, father, and two best friends to support me. Some may think that is a bit crowded, but for me, it was perfect. Each one of my loved ones helped in different ways and at different times during labor. I loved using the birthing tub to ease labor and keep me relaxed with my friends alternating cool wash cloths on my face, and my husband massaging my back. When it was time to push my baby into the world, my midwife found laying on the bed wasn’t working efficiently for me, and so moved me to the birthing stool where results came quickly. I will never forget my friend shouting “A son! You have a son!” when Keagan emerged into the midwife’s hands. After my son was cleaned, APGAR scored, and swaddled, he began nursing almost immediately in bed with me. Soon thereafter the “crowd” left and my husband, baby son and I slept happily in bed together until the morning. We were anxious to get home the following day to start our new life together.

These aspects of the birth of my son I cherish so much would not have been possible in a hospital setting. I was grateful to have such a wonderful hospital be a two minute gurney ride away should my labor need medical intervention, but like so many women, my labor and son’s birth was not a medical event. Women need these options for labor and delivery. The hospital setting is not the place many women want to have their labor and delivery. Without the Northshore Birth Center as an option, there would only be one other birth center in the entire state of Massachusetts.

A week ago I found out I am going to have a second baby. I was thrilled to call my favorite midwife at the Northshore Birth Center and make my first prenatal appointment. I happily drive one hour each way from my house to get there. Should the birth center not be an option, I will not have my labor and delivery in Beverly Hospital. I will go to the Cambridge birth center instead, or research a home birth. I will be heartbroken to leave the midwives I have come to know and respect at the Northshore Birth Center, but a hospital birth is not what I want unless it becomes medically necessary.

Please keep the North Shore Birth Center an option for healthy women to labor and deliver.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,

Alannah Gustavson
17 Reo Rd
Maynard, MA

Dear Board of Trustees:

It has come to my attention that on November 18, 2008 it will be proposed to you that the North Shore Birth Center no longer allow births, requiring all mothers to birth at Beverly Hospital instead. I urge you not to agree to this proposal and to allow births to continue at the North Shore Birth Center.

I am currently pregnant and receiving prenatal care from the wonderful midwives at the Birth Center. Although I live almost an hour away from the Birth Center, my husband and I have chosen to utilize the services of the Birth Center because of a negative experience in a hospital during the birth of our son. There are a number of hospitals that are within minutes of my home but we love knowing that using the Birth Center allows us a very relaxed and personal environment with no need for unnecessary interventions that are often mandated in hospitals. We also are comforted by the fact that Beverly Hospital is right across the street should the hospital’s services be needed.

However, if the Trustees should agree to stop births in the Birth Center there would be no reason for us to continue care with Beverly Hospital. This would require us to look into other options to achieve the natural childbirth we want. We would likely choose a local hospital to birth in, as home births are not covered under our insurance plan.

I plead with you to continue allowing births at the Birth Center. Please allow women to continue to have choices when it comes to birth and to allow us the natural births we so desire.

Sincerely,

Cindy Chok

A letter sent by Robin…

Dear Beverly Hospital Board,

Six years ago this fall I became pregnant with my first child. When I announced my pregnancy to friends and family they all assumed I would choose to deliver my baby at one of “The Best” hospitals in Boston, as I am a Registered Nurse turned Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Imagine their surprise when I informed these well meaning friends and family members that not only was I not traveling to Boston to deliver my baby, I was not planning on using a physician or a hospital! I was going to receive prenatal care from a midwife and deliver my baby at the North Shore Birth Center!

It was because of my experiences as a student nurse in these “best” Boston hospitals that I did not want a hospital birth. Even as a young college student I was disheartened by current childbirth practices. That was when I decided I would use a midwife and pursue natural childbirth when I became of child bearing age. As a newcomer to Beverly shortly before becoming pregnant, how excited was I to learn about the North Shore Birth Center only minutes away from my home!

I also knew from my nurse practitioner training that the medicalization of childbirth has only increased infant and maternal morbidity. “…the routine use of technological, medical, and surgical interventions in place of natural childbirth has not been shown to increase the safety of childbirth, as would be reflected by declining infant mortality rates. To the contrary, the literature suggests that one intervention frequently begets another, thereby creating potentially riskier and costlier scenarios, …a cascade effect,” (Woodruff and Vezeau, The American Journal of Nurse Practitioners, Vol. 9 No. 2 February 2005, p. 56). Hospitals are not the safest places to deliver babies, either. “The practice of giving birth in a hospital and of using technological interventions to manage pain, monitor the fetus, induce or augment labor, and stabilize the mother is not necessary in most cases. From a statistical standpoint, the vast majority of pregnancies and births are uncomplicated, and serious risks are rare,” (Woodruff and Vezeau, p. 57).

Statistics aside, I can further provide my personal birth experiences in support of delivering babies at the North Shore Birth Center. Due to unforeseen circumstances with my first child, I went though labor and delivery at Beverly Hospital rather than the NSBC. I ended up having the exact opposite birth I had hoped for, including pitocin induction. By the grace of God I still had my midwife from the NSBC with me and was able to deliver without pain medication and as “naturally” as possible. The entire experience, however, was quite stressful. What I remember most about this birth is the myriad of hospital staff assessing me and my unborn baby, the monitors beeping (pitocin and fetal monitor), my midwife and staff nurse arguing, and unfamiliar hospital staff popping in and out when I was pushing to get my baby delivered!

Three years later my second child was born. His birth could not have been more perfect or beautiful, it still brings tears to my eyes. This time my labor started on its own. My husband and I arrived at the NSBC at 8:20 a.m. on a warm, sunny July morning. After the midwife evaluated me, my husband and I went outside the NSBC to help my labor progress. Most of my labor occurred outdoors in the beautiful sunny morning. My husband, doula and I walked around outside the birth center and hospital campus, stopping under the shade of trees during contractions. Around 11 a.m. I felt I needed to go back inside and be checked for progression. At this point it was my wish to continue laboring in the Jacuzzi tub until delivery. Soon after a second midwife joined us and gave me the extra strength and encouragement I needed to make it to delivery.

Laboring in a warm tub with complete silence (other than my own labor noises) allowed me to actually fall asleep between pushing! Shortly after entering the water my baby was born. He was born into a warm bathtub with only my loving husband present, as well as two midwives, one of whom I had known since my first child’s birth, another I had gotten to know quite well throughout my second pregnancy, and my doula friend. There was not a stranger in the room. There were no outside noises distracting me from the peaceful birth that had just occurred.

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 homebirth. I know I will. Please leave the hospital for the women who truly need medicalized birth.

Sincerely,

Robin

To the Board of Trustees Northeast Health Corporation:

It was with great sadness and disbelief that I heard of the proposed closing of the North Shore Birth Center. I write this testimony hoping that you will do the right thing and keep it open.

I delivered my daughter, Maya, at the North Shore Birth Center with the gentle help of Eva Wax three years ago.

My husband, the extended family and the photographers enjoyed the home-like ambiance. They hung out in a quiet living room with a kitchen when I needed some time to myself. We joked, we laughed…our experience has been of ease, comfort and sense of control, which we would not have had at the hospital environment. My commitment to natural birth (with absolutely no interventions like IV, monitoring, etc.) was well respected and encouraged by the midwives I met there. In fact, the experience reaffirmed my belief in the wisdom of a woman’s body to give birth naturally and I have decided to have my second child at home with the assistance of a NH licensed midwife.

There seems to be a huge push by the hospital administrators/insurance companies to treat laboring women as any other sick patient. While it may be guided by the fear of lawsuits it is most likely rooted in the ignorance of the basic needs of a woman in labor.
I am so sick of the “assembly line” treatment that woman have learned to expect from the hospitals (over 50% C-section rate confirms it)… Let’s push for a better birth, more human, more dignified!

Keep the North Shore Birth Center open – women in Massachusetts have so few birth choices…

Sincerely,

Kasia Sokalla
Methuen, MA

Dear Trustees,

I am writing to let you know how much I cherish the North Shore Birth Center. I would not have chosen to have my baby at Beverly if were not for the Birth Center. I was so relieved to find them when looking for where to have my prenatal care, labor, and delivery. As soon as I walked in the door I knew I had found the right place. The natural, homelike environment and the compassionate, caring approach demonstrated by the nurse-midwives felt just perfect. I have great respect for Northeast Health System for being part of such a wonderful environment for women.

I received amazing care from all of the staff throughout my pregnancy. I had a long and difficult labor and was so happy that I was able to let it proceed naturally at the Birth Center where I felt comfortable. I felt beautifully cared for throughout the many hours. I was very glad they continued to respect and support my choices for a natural birth rather than trying to force a more rapid progress through unnatural means. However, after many, many hours of unproductive labor, I finally went over to Beverly Hospital with my midwife, Eva Wax. She was with me every step of the way and I am so incredibly grateful to her for being there with me both at the Birth Center and at the hospital. I would have been completely miserable if I had that long labor in a standard hospital room.

I can’t say enough about how much I support and cherish the Birth Center. I am counting on being able to use them if I have a second baby. I would be completely devastated if the Center closed and would look to find a similar environment somewhere much farther away rather than just defaulting to Beverly Hospital.

Thank you for helping many women to pursue their desire for natural childbirth and for keeping the North Shore Birth Center up and running for years to come.

Best regards,

Heather Weeks
Salem, MA

Dear Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation,

At your November 18th meeting, you will entertain a proposal from Northeast Hospital Corporation (NHC) to prevent mothers from laboring and birthing at the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC). This change represents a shift from a model of care where birth is not viewed as a fundamentally medical event unless mandated by risk or complication to a model where all births are medicalized. To those of us outside of that meeting, the degree of this shift is somewhat unclear, as we are not privy to the detailed plans of hospital management. What is clear, however, is that clients of Beverly Hospital will lose elements of the birthing experience as a natural and spiritual event in an intimate family setting.

In the few remaining days before that meeting, you will undoubtedly receive numerous letters from community members describing their own profound emotional experiences with birth at the NSBC. As advocates for the community, you will be asked to weigh the value of those experiences against the economic gains that the hospital management expects to receive from this policy change. You must weight twenty-eight years of birthing stories against a perceived dollar value. What price-point justifies the continued existence of the NSBC? Is there a threshold of profit? A requirement to break even? Some maximum acceptable annual deficit? What about the financial landscape makes the NSBC cost-prohibitive now, if the costs have been acceptable for so many years?

Although my wife is forty weeks into her own pregnancy, and we are horrified by that prospect that we could be barred from completing our journey at the NSBC, I am not writing to tell you our story. I do not want to put you in the unenviable position of judging the dollar worth of our birthing experiences. Rather, I am writing to argue that this change in policy will have a net-negative economic effect on the NHC.

In May of 1998, researchers completed the financial portion of the San Diego Birth Center Study. Sponsored by the U.S. Agency for Policy Care and Research, this study was meticulously constructed to compare the combined model of prenatal and delivery care with fully medicalized care. Its conclusion was that collaborative care between midwives and physicians was as safe and successful as fully medicalized births but had a lower average cost than the traditional approach. This was not the first study to demonstrate the financial viability and safety of midwifery-based care, nor will it be the last; however, the unique value of the San Diego Birth Center Study is that it represented combined care, the model employed by the NSBC; the study demonstrated that patients, clinicians, and hospitals all benefited when they adapted care to match risk.

In addition to the aforementioned research, it is also important to note that the NSBC is a unique attribute of Beverly Hospital and is one of only two birth centers in Massachusetts. Furthermore, the NSBC and the combined model of care are central reasons for Beverly Hospital’s position as one of the top 100 hospitals in the United States for prenatal and delivery care. This poses an interesting dilemma for you as board members: do you represent the immediate Beverly community or do you represent the North Shore, Massachusetts, or greater New England community of mothers who want the type of services that the NSBC offers? My wife and I do not live in Beverly but we bring our business to Beverly Hospital because of the NSBC. We are also more likely to use Beverly Hospital for other forms of care now that we have seen firsthand the quality of care that you can provide. Many of the NSBC’s current clients are from outside of Beverly, and it is clear that you are only scratching the surface of the market. It stands to reason that the NSBC is an open door for a savvy hospital administration to take advantage of, not to close.

In conclusion, I ask you to reflect on the circumstances surrounding this proposal. Why, after twenty eight exceptional years of operation, would the NHC propose to neutralize the NSBC? The model of care has proven efficacy and client satisfaction, has lower hospital and client costs, and is the foundation of Beverly Hospital’s national status as a birthing institution. This change would trigger higher average birth costs while also sacrificing a huge percentage of the hospital’s birthing clientele. Approving this proposal would be a detriment to everyone involved.

Sincerely,

David Radue
Salem, MA

The Board of Trustees Northeast Health Corporation
Beverly Hospital
85 Herrick Street, Beverly, MA 01915

I understand a meeting of the board of the Northeast Health Corporation will be held on November 18th to decide the future of the North Shore Birth Center. I am writing to urge you to keep the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC) open as a place where women can choose to give birth. It is a unique environment that attracts a population of patients that are low risk and would otherwise give birth at home or in another birth center. By closing the birth center you will be losing this low risk client population while North Shore women lose this important institution.

As a part of your discussion on November 18th the board will most likely be assessing litigation risk. I understand that the malpractice risk associated with labor and delivery is very high and that risks associated with births in the birthing center must be scrutinized.

I tried, but was unable to access data on NSBC related lawsuits in the last five years as compared to hospital birth related lawsuits. However, you have access to internal litigation data and I urge you to look at that data to make an objective assessment. I am confident that women who feel in control of their birthing experience, as they do at the NSBC, are less likely to sue and I expect this hypothesis will be supported by the data.

Nationally there is a growing body of evidence showing that, for low risk pregnancies, a birth center birth is a lower cost and healthier way to birth, which avoids unnecessary medical interventions. The landmark “National Birth Center Study” published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December1989 found that “few innovations in health services promise lower cost, greater availability and a high degree of satisfaction with a comparable degree of safety [… and …] that modern birth centers can identify women who are at low risk for obstetrical complications and can care for them in a way that provides these benefits.” The study also showed that birth centers have a cesarean section rate of 4.4%, which is about one half that of studies of low risk, in-hospital births. And, of mothers evaluating their care in birth centers, 98.8% would recommend it to friends and/or return to the center for a subsequent birth.

Other data that I was able to find for you show that the cesarean section rate of women beginning birth at the NSBC was 5% As compared with the statewide average of 32.5% and Beverly Hospital’s average of 20% (which includes the NSBC numbers that actually improves the Beverly Hospital numbers). Although performing a cesarean section is considered by the medical community to reduce litigation risk because the doctor can state that everything medically possible was done, I am confident you will find that women birthing at the North Shore Birth Center have a much lower incidence of bringing lawsuits against the hospital. This is because natural births do not involve the complexities and risks of administering different types of drugs, adverse reactions to aesthesia, and risk of secondary infection from cesarean section surgery.

According to the article “Results of the National Study of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean in Birth Centers”[Obstetrics & Gynecology (November 2004)] there is no way for a woman who has had a c-section, to fully avoid the increased risks that come from having had a prior cesarean section. Her reproductive potential carries a scar for life, and that scar increases her risk for serious complications in subsequent pregnancies. Therefore it is important that physicians, midwives and pregnant women make every effort to avoid that first cesarean birth. The data above shows that the incidence of cesareans is lower for births beginning in the NSBC.

The North Shore Birth Center can continue to be a model for the medical community to follow if only you will decide to keep the doors open for women who wish to birth there. Again I urge you and the board of the Northeast Health Corporation to keep the North Shore Birth Center open to births.

Sincerely,

Amy Olson Belanger

A letter sent by Sarah…

To the Board of Trustees Northeast Health Corporation:

I am writing to urge you to vote to keep the North Shore Birth Center open. My son was born there on December 10, 2006. His birth was one of the most empowering and awe-inspiring experiences of my life and my husband feels the same way.

The primary reason we chose the North Shore Birth Center was because of the wonderful midwives. But we also chose the Birth Center for the cozy, homelike facility. During the early part of my labor I spent some time in Beverly Hospital for monitoring. I am grateful for the competent care of the nurses that I received there, but I found the lack of privacy and fluorescent lights stressful and my labor stalled due to my distress. I was so relieved when we were able to transfer to the dark quiet of the Birth Center and only then did my labor resume in earnest. I was very grateful for the birthing tub right in the room, which helped me relax during labor. After our son was born, we spent some time napping together as a family in the large bed and felt almost as comfortable as if we were at home. We also loved being able to bring and cook our own food.

My husband and I hope to have another baby in the next couple of years and would love to use the North Shore Birth Center again. I hope we will have that choice. We would prefer not to have a hospital birth unless it becomes medically necessary. I hope you can see how critical it is for women and families to have the option to have a more gentle, homelike birth experience. Thank you for your consideration.

Dear Board of Trustees:

I’m writing in support of continuing to allow births at the North Shore Birth Center. I recently delivered my son, William, at the NSBC on August 31st, and I can testify to the special nature of the services they provide. Trying to envelope the birth center within the hospital would lead to its ruin. Having a stand-alone birthing center in close proximity to a hospital is valuable to laboring women, and it’s a resource worth fighting for.

I remember the sounds from that last hour before Will was born. As the night came to a close, the crickets began to subside, making room for the chirping of birds outside the open window. The rocking chair provided a gentle rhythm as my midwife, Eva, sat and offered her calming encouragement. After Will came to us, slippery and serene, I laughed, my husband cried, and Will simply gazed at us – he looked so relaxed for having had such a journey! We spent over an hour nestled in bed, the three of us, snoozing and nursing and smelling eachother.

Our daughter, Helen, was born almost three years before in a hospital in Baltimore with the assistance of a midwife who we adored and trusted. Our experiences from her birth were fine… just fine. Given the setting that we were in, our goal of a ‘natural’ birth simply meant medication-free, and even that was a struggle since many of the hospital staff tried to dissuade us. We didn’t know, at that time, how normal, relaxing, and truly natural a birth experience could be, or how important a calming environment was in achieving a calming birth. Nothing was wrong when Helen was born, yet the pace was still franetic: the noises of machines and pages outside our room; the opening and closing of our door as different midwives, nurses, doctors and interns came in and out; the separation from my new girl, even though it was only for a couple minutes and only a few feet of distance, pulling on my heart.

Having had both a midwife-attended hospital birth AND a birth at the North Shore Birth Center, I feel I can appreciate just how valuable the birth center experience is for a laboring woman and her family. I travelled from Newburyport to Beverly during my early labor to ensure a peaceful birth with the wonderful guidance, support, and knowledge of the midwives at the North Shore Birth Center. Despite my respect for these spectacular midwives, I would NOT have made that drive had I been guarenteed to labor and deliver in a hospital.

It is because of my experiences with birth and because of my desire for all women to have birthing choices that I ask you to please continue offering full maternity services at the North Shore Birthing Center, including labor and delivery. You are currently offering such a magnificent opportunity to laboring women – and it is drawing families from much further away than a hospital-based midwifery practice could – that you would do well to support it’s continuation, not impede it’s success. Please continue to support the midwives at the North Shore Birth Center. And, in doing so, please continue to support laboring women throughout all of Eastern Massachusetts and beyond.
Respectfully,
Elena J. Russo

CORRECTED

To the Board of Trustees Northeast Health Corporation:

It was with great sadness and disbelief that I heard of the proposed closing of the North Shore Birth Center. I write this testimony hoping that you will do the right thing and keep it open.

I delivered my daughter, Maya, at the North Shore Birth Center with the gentle help of Eva Wax three years ago.

My husband, the extended family and the photographers enjoyed the home-like ambiance. They hung out in a quiet living room with a kitchen when I needed some time to myself. We joked, we laughed…our experience has been of ease, comfort and sense of control, which we would not have had at the hospital environment. My commitment to natural birth (with absolutely no interventions like IV, monitoring, etc.) was well respected and encouraged by the midwives I met there. In fact, the experience reaffirmed my belief in the wisdom of a woman’s body to give birth naturally and I have decided to have my second child at home with the assistance of a certified midwife. In other words, the only thing better than North Shore Birth Center, in my opinion, is home.

There seems to be a huge push by the hospital administrators/insurance companies to treat laboring women as any other sick patient. While it may be guided by the fear of lawsuits it is most likely rooted in the ignorance of the basic needs of a woman in labor.
I am so sick of the “assembly line” treatment that woman have learned to expect from the hospitals (over 50% C-section rate confirms it)… Let’s push for a better birth, more human, more dignified and safer!

Keep the North Shore Birth Center open – women in Massachusetts have so few birth choices…

Sincerely,

Kasia Sokalla
Methuen, MA

Dear Board of Trustees:
I am writing to show my support for the North Shore Birth Center.
For my older son’s birth in March of 2006, my husband and I chose to birth in one of Beverly Hospital’s LDR rooms with a NSBC midwife attending. My pregnancy was healthy, and my son’s birth normal (excepting the unnecessary medicated interventions). There were many factors that made my son’s birth disappointing and painful. I was uncomfortable and frightened — my midwife had another birth to attend in the hospital, and because of the differences in a midwife attended hospital birth and a birth center birth, I was mostly attended by the LDR nurses. I felt pressured to receive medication that I did not want, and I believe that these circumstances surrounding my son’s birth exacerbated my fear and the negative repercussions. My son and I had a very difficult time establishing breastfeeding and my personal recovery was very long due to jagged and painful tears.
When we became pregnant with our second son, we decided that we would like for him to be born in the Birth Center. Again, I had a very healthy pregnancy and all indications that the birth would be normal. My son’s birth in September of 2007 was attended by wonderful, supportive midwives, and the environment was relaxing and unhurried. My second son’s birth in the NSBC was the single most empowering, amazing and life-altering experience of my life.
I believe that every woman who has a healthy, low-risk pregnancy deserves the right to have that type of experience in childbirth if she wishes it. If you disallow the ability of the NSBC midwives to attend births in the birth center itself, you are radically limiting every woman’s right to choose the atmosphere of her child’s birth, and consequently, as I discovered, that atmosphere can disproportionately sway her emotional response to the miracle of birth.
I know that an operating birth center is outside of the normal flow of health care choices, and I know that giving a woman the option to use a birth center for her birth does not present a unified system. But I also believe that health care choices should reflect the needs and desires of the patients. Please vote to continue to allow births at the North Shore Birth Center. My family would not be what it is today if I had not had that choice.
Thank you for your consideration,
Sarah Cole

A letter sent by Kerry…

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to implore you to continue allowing births at the birth center and maintain it as the wonderful option it has been for so many women seeking natural childbirth in a more home like setting.

I came to the Birth Center through a long time friend and was drawn to their philosophy of birth being a natural act that women with low risk pregnancies were more than capable of doing without fear or unnecessary interventions.

The birth of my first child turned out to be a necessary C-section at the advice of the midwives due to a prominent sacrum. During this c-section the surgeon indicated that I would probably have future c-sections. The Midwives, however, advised that future vaginal deliveries were possible if I wanted to try. This past April, I delivered my daughter successfully and vaginally at Beverly Hospital.

Despite the necessary medical interventions, I went into and came out of my birthing experiences without fear and with a feeling of partnership with all the midwives at the North Shore Birth Center. I believe that this experience would have been different had I gone a more conventional path.

One might argue that since both my births were at Beverly Hospital that not having births at the birth center wouldn’t have had an effect on me. It is my belief that it is not just the birth center itself, but the fact that the midwives have attended so many natural and successful births that has shaped the experiences of all the women that have chosen the birth center.

If there are no more birth center births eventually over time it will shape the experience of the next generation of midwives and reduce the number of choices for women throughout the North Shore. The Birth of one’s children is one of the most profoundly personal experiences you can have. For many people the North Shore Birth Center has made that experience unique. Please consider the many people that will be affected by this decision. My hope is that it is the right one.

Dear Board of Trustees:

I am writing this letter in response to the recent news that there will be a meeting on November 18, 2009 to determine if women will still be able to give birth at the North Shore Birthing Center.

I feel very strongly against this proposed change. I am currently 26 weeks pregnant, and choose to have my care at the North Shore Birth Center because I wanted to provide both myself and my child the opportunity to experience childbirth in a setting the supports mother and baby, and allow this process to unfold as uninterrupted and naturally as possible. The Birth Center is the best of both worlds—holistic care to mother and baby, within close reach of advanced medical care should the need arise. I am an informed consumer and know the statistics. Outcomes are better for mother and baby when adequate emotional and physical support is provided to the laboring mother with minimal invasive intervention. This kind of birth is extremely difficult to achieve in a hospital, I know because I have seen it, over and over again in my profession.

I strongly believe women should have the right to choose how they birth. Taking the option of birthing in a supported and safe environment outside of a hospital is a terrible shame. We need options. Please allow women to continue to have this very important choice in how we can give birth. The North Shore Birthing Center is such a positive and special place, we need ten more of these kinds of centers, yet instead we seem to be moving in the other direction. Please do not let this vote pass on November 18, 2008.

Dear Northeast Health Corporation’s Board of Trustees,

I am writing to urge you to continue birthing at the North Shore Birth Center. The facility is unique, and in a time where societal trends are limiting families decisions on where, when, and how to birth, the need for options such as the North Shore Birth Center has never been more important.

My wife and I labored and delivered a healthy boy at the North Shore Birth Center this year. It was our first child. Throughout the experience we saw the real value in the midwifery and in the facility. The facility feels like home. It was clean, fully stocked with supplies, and most importantly, staffed with an amazing group of midwives who guided us through the experience in a positive and supportive way.

Think of what it takes for a woman to labor naturally. It is an extreme event. The mother needs to leave all distractions behind and look inward to find the strength to get through. For some, a hospital setting would be a distraction (odors, bright lights, presence of electronic medical devices, ease of interventions, etc.). Also, think of the professionalism of the midwives, themselves. Such a change would be a blow to their morale.

I am asking you to consider what such a closure would mean for families of today and the future, its impact on society as a whole. Lastly, consider the mission of Northeast Health Systems. I ask that as you “maintain respect and compassion for your patients” and “reach out to and be a reflection of the diverse populations [you] serve” you consider diverse philosophies such as natural birthing in a family-centered environment.

Please do not end birthing at the North Shore Birth Center.

RE: Please continue to offer woman the North Shore Birth Center delivery option.

I recently learned that at a November 18, 2008 board meeting, the possibility of eliminating the option for women to deliver at the free standing North Shore Birth Center will be discussed. I am writing to urge you to please continue to allow this practice.

I delivered both of my children with the North Shore Birthing Center. Due to a concern over a perceived blood condition, my first delivery was at the hospital but I was able to deliver my second baby at the birthing center. With a strong desire to deliver both of my children (Isabelle, age 4; Camden, age 2) without (medical) intervention, access and use of the Birthing Center was critical to me in order to achieve this goal. During both labors, I experienced tremendous relief from laboring in the bath tub. During Camden’s delivery, at the birthing center, I remained in the birthing tub and successfully and happily delivered him there. During this delivery, I am not certain I would have been able to achieve my goal of (medically) unassisted birth, without the relief of the water in the birthing tub.

In both cases, my recovery from delivery was very quick and without any complications. I attribute this partly due to my choice of delivering naturally. The care and encouragement to reach my goals that we received at the Birthing Center was exceptional. Having the option of the less “hospitalized” nature of the setting was also paramount to the excellent delivery experiences we had.

I have referred many women and families to the Birthing Center and feel it would be truly disadvantageous to women on the North Shore (& beyond) to not have the same options of delivery that I am so grateful to have had. The alternative to a hospital setting vs. a home birth is paramount to giving women options and the birthing center provides this exceptional option. I hope that you will take into consideration my thoughts as you consider this important decision.

Sincerely,

Ann E.W-H
Marblehead, MA

Dear Board of Trustees:

The North Shore Birth Center is a unique resource that deserves to be supported and celebrated as an asset to the Beverly Hospital and Northeast Health Systems. A decision by the Board to stop allowing births at the North Shore Birth Center would be a mistake that would negatively affect the hospital, limit choice for hundreds of parents and their newborns, and signal a loss to the medical innovation and quality in the region.

There is a defined, documented, and growing body of evidence that demonstrates the safety of natural birthing and the medical advantages for both the mother and the child. The Beverly Hospital is one of the few medical institutions in the country that can proudly claim to be at the forefront of supporting and rediscovering the value of natural birthing. Properly supported, the Birth Center should bring in new patients from a broad geographic area, and benefit the Hospital and its patients with the effiency of care, rapid recovery, and short inpatient stays that are associated with natural births.

When my wife delivered our first child, it was in a traditional hospital environment, under the supervision of a midwife. Our second child was delivered at the North Shore Birth Center, and the experience was incredible, and entirely unlike anything I expected a traditional hospital system like Beverly to provide. From a purely personal standpoint, I can say that the only reason I was willing to travel 45 minutes from our home in Newburyport to your hospital was for the unique and incredible experience of the Birth Center’s natural and professional environment. A birth under the care of a midwife, but in a more conventional maternity setting, is no substitute for what the North Shore Birth Center is able to offer.

I hope more parents will have the wonderful experience that my wife and I had at the Birth Center. Rather than cutting the services at the Birth center, you should be celebrating it, marketing it, and investing in it as a centerpiece of the Hospital’s commitment to its mission, to the communities it serves, and to the betterment of health care locally and nationally.

Respectfully,

Nathaniel F. Coughlin

(Letters sent to the Secretary, and addressed and sent to each board member personally.)

Dear Members of the Northeast Health Corporation’s Board of Trustees:

I am very distressed to hear that on November 18th, 2008 you are going to deliberate on a decision to no longer allow women to labor and give birth at the North Shore Birth Center. I plead with you to decide against this measure which would limit a woman’s choice when it comes to her own individual birth preferences.

I am a mother of two children and I am personally so grateful to have had the opportunity to give birth to my second baby at the North Shore Birth Center. For my first child I had a natural birth at my local hospital with the assistance of midwives. While this experience was fine I did not feel comfortable birthing in an unfamiliar medical environment with very specific regulations about when, how, and how long to birth. I was not “sick,” I did not belong in a harsh hospital environment, and I did not appreciate the medical staff’s cookie cutter approach to my birthing process. Every woman is unique, every birth is different, and having a baby is a very natural yet individualized, personal process. A fulfilling birth experience reflects these sentiments and every woman deserves to have a voice and a choice when it comes to her birth preferences.

Since my first birth experience did not meet my expectations I turned to the wisdom of mothers throughout the North Shore and asked for their input and suggestions on new OB/GYNs and facilities that utilize midwives. Over and over again I heard rave reviews of the North Shore Birth Center. On October 9, 2007 my husband and I attended an orientation at the North Shore Birth Center and I felt that I had found the perfect fit for our birthing needs.

Ironically, we learned shortly thereafter that our due date was October 9, 2008, exactly one year to the date of our orientation. It was fate! My husband, our four year old daughter, and I all attended the baby’s prenatal appointments in a comfortable, caring environment where the midwives encouraged our family unity. The midwives listened to our birth preferences and wholeheartedly supported our desire for a low-key, intimate, family oriented, natural birth.

On October 3, 2008 we gave birth to our son with two fabulous midwives at our side, Reina Dastous and Amanda Carritte. This safe and supportive birth experience was all that we hoped it would be. We were able to give birth in our own special peaceful way, and we welcomed our son into the world in the quiet comfort of the homelike atmosphere of the North Shore Birth Center.

I am asking you to please consider how important it is for low-risk women to have the option to give birth in a setting other than the hospital. The Birth Center means so much to our family and to other women who are grateful to have the freedom of choice. Please vote to keep the birthing option available at the North Shore Birth Center.

Sincerely,

The Carr Family

I’m very happy for those of you who had positive experiences at the Birth Center, but I want you to know that there are dangerous protocols in place there that do not work. In 1995, those protocols led to the unnecessary death of my otherwise healthy, full-term daughter.

If I could have closed the Center the day Julia died, I would have. Perhaps there is more to this story than any of you truly knows.

To Lisa Gery,

What are the protocols to which you refer?? I want to know the rest of the story. Can you share more?

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in response to reports that the Board will be meeting November 18 to consider a proposal to disallow labor and delivery at the North Shore Birth Center. I want to let the Board know that as a consumer of Northeast Health Systems, I am adamantly opposed to this proposal.

I had my first baby at the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC) in April of 2001 and am currently using the NSBC and expect to birth there next month (due date, December 7). Although I appreciate the excellent level of care I have received and am receiving from the knowledgeable midwifes at the NSBC, I chose the NSBC precisely because I did not want the medical intervention of a hospital birth. And that is why I have chosen the NSBC again for this baby. If I were unable to birth at the NSBC, I would seek care at the Cambridge Birth Center not at Beverly Hospital.

The North Shore Birth Center is a gift of choice to pregnant women living on the North Shore and beyond. Because we have the NSBC, women like me with low risk pregnancies can labor and deliver without any unnecessary and potentially harmful medical interventions. Non-hospital births have been cited by many studies and acknowledged by the World Health Organization to be safer than hospital births in comparably low-risk pregnancies due, among other things, to lower rates of infant distress, infant and maternal infection, and postpartum hemorrhage. In addition, non-hospital births have a much lower rate of c-sections than hospital births. This is why non-hospital labor and delivery is the most affordable way for a woman to give birth. Please think long and hard when you are considering this proposal. Why should Northeast Health Systems make the decision to take away this healthy, safe, and important choice for women?

Thank you for your time and deliberation on this crucial issue.

Sincerely,

Susan A. Toleos, MA, LMHC

To Whom It May Concern:
I am in my eight month with my third baby and I desire very much to deliver this child at the North Shore Birth Center where I can feel comfortable and relaxed. Having given birth to two other babies, my husband and I are familiar with the procedures, the rooms, the midwives,etc. It is important for me and mothers like me to birth in an environment of peace and nurturing with few interventions as possible. The birth center provided that for me in the past. It provides this for many women.
I and others may decide to labor and birth at home if the center closes. However, due to my insecurity about this option, I fear there would be complications at home. The birth center is the closest place to home for delivering a baby as it is set up with large beds for both birthing mother and her partner, the accessibility of relaxing in a large tub (which is better and bigger than my tub at home), rocking chairs for tired fathers, rooms with limited medical contraptions that may place unconcious stifling feelings in the mother and more. Unlike at home, if there were a need for medical intervention it is comforting knowing that the midwives are experts and would intervene if necessary. Further more, the midwives could use the hospital facilities if need be.
For my previous two births we have chosen to rest in the hospital for a few days. Although I do not regret my decisions, my wish is for something new with this next birth. What would please me most post labor and birth would be to enjoy the facilities at the birth center with my immediate and extended family. I want them to feel the comfort and warmth of the center as have I these past five years. I envision us bonding in the private family room while my children play with toys and enjoy their new baby brother or sister in an environment they too are familiar with and have grown to love.
It is comforting to bring my two small children on check-ups with me and know they are secure if I step into the back rooms. They enjoy helping the midwives during my visit with a job to do because this helps them connect to the new baby.
As a professional swimming instructor, I am familiar with being in the water and know the benefits of bouyancy during prgnancy, labor and birth. The relief from gravity during labor is a big help and birthing in a tub can relieve much tension and pain for me. It was so helpful especially with my second baby to blow bubbles while submerged underwater throughout a contraction.
Thank you for your consideration in keeping the North Shore Birth Center up and running for another generation. It would be a truly sad day to see its doors closed.

With respect,
Rachel Simpson

A letter sent by Laurie…

To Whom It May Concern:

It has come to my attention that Northeast Health System is considering a proposal to remove the North Shore Birth Center as a labor and delivery option for women with low-risk pregnancies. The rationale given by the management of Beverly Hospital for this proposal is not cost containment (since birth centers are known to be a relatively low-cost enterprise) but the desire to provide a “Unified Model of Health Care”. This phrase seems to me to suggest three possible motivations (or some combination thereof): providing the best quality health care to patients, having a philosophical stance on the model by which women should deliver their children, and the desire to avoid lawsuits. I would like to address all three.

Quality health care: In 1989, the New England Journal of Medicine published the findings of a study of 11,814 women admitted for labor & delivery at birth centers across the U.S. The authors stated in their abstract: “There were no maternal deaths. The overall intrapartum and neonatal mortality rate was 1.3 per 1000 births. The rates of infant mortality and low Apgar scores were similar to those reported in large studies of low-risk hospital births. We conclude that birth centers offer a safe and acceptable alternative to hospital confinement for selected pregnant women….” (Rooks et al, 1989 Dec 28;321(26):1804-11). While the study is twenty years old, I see no logical reason to suspect that birth center care has gotten worse in the intervening years.

Philosophical outlook: There is obviously a wide range of opinions on the topic of how childbirth should happen. From radical feminists such as Mary Daly to the French obstetrician Michel Odent, and presumably among many ordinary women, we find those who protest against the paternalism inherent in the social norm of hospital deliveries and who cite the many psychological advantages of non-hospital births. Whether you agree or disagree with their opinions, the point is that they are opinions, as is the belief that a hospital model is best. In a democratic society, it is unacceptable to have one philosophical outlook dictate the circumstances of every birth, given the above noted statistics.

Legal concerns: While these can be complex, the long-standing tradition of patients signing a form stating that they understand the risks when they choose to leave a hospital against medical advice provides a clear precedent. There must be some workable waiver system that can be implemented or enhanced to protect Beverly Hospital and the Northeast Health System’s financial interests while maintaining the flexibility of choice for women.

My sister delivered her baby at the North Shore Birth Center. It was a wonderful experience for her as well as for her family and friends as we gathered in the home-like atmosphere to celebrate. I would consider it a shame if, without legitimate medical grounds, women and their families were to be denied this option in the future.

Thank you for your kind attention.

A letter sent by Krista…

Dear Ms Palmer,

I gave birth to my second child this past spring after inducement at the Beverly Hospital on March 31st. Although I choose (and had to because of inducement) to deliver at the hospital I was under the care of the North Shore Birth Center my entire pregnancy. With my first pregnancy I was under the care of the North Shore Medical Center located in Danvers (office) and Salem Hospital. Neither my needs nor my child’s needs were met during pregnancy, labor and delivery at Salem Hospital. I was not closely monitored and was poorly induced for 48 hours, which lead to infection and minor complications leaving my newborn in the care of the intensive care doctors. After the birth of my first child I researched OB-GYN’s intensely only finding that the perfect fit for me was not an OB-GYN but was a Midwife. My findings lead me to the North Shore Birth Center, which was right in my backyard. My initial visit at the Birth Center sweep away my fears leaving my husband and I with hope, contentment and our lost excitement for the miracle of life. The environment of the Birth Center is simply astonishing and miraculous.

Throughout my entire pregnancy I was closely watched and if a problem arouse I was referred to a doctor. The midwives were very thorough and educated both my husband and I on things we never learned the first time around. Every time I left a prenatal appointment I felt at peace and educated, not once did I walk out of that office with unanswered question. Even though I was a low risk patient I was closely monitored and cared for my entire pregnancy. Like my first labor and delivery I ended needing to be induced with my second child as well. Only this time things where different. The midwives made well-educated decisions during my inducement and left me with warm feelings when I think back about both my induced labor and delivery. Susan Thomforde was the midwife that ended up delivering my daughter Sophia Bella. Even though I did not choose nor have the opportunity to deliver at the Birth Center I would feel safe doing so. It was honestly as if Susan had a sixth sense on my entire labor and delivery, she was incredible. My husband and I joke and tell people that we felt like we were in a spa during my labor and delivery. The group of midwifes at the Birth Center worked with me my entire pregnancy and gave my husband and I one of the most precious gifts of life; a peaceful and healthy labor and delivery for both I, my husband and our second daughter.

I was raised in Beverly and have always felt a sense of pride of what the City alone has to offer. It would be a great loss not only for the Beverly Community but also for the North Shore and for the State of Massachusetts. My husband and I were more then pleased that Beverly Hospital offered the North Shore Birth Center. Because of the excellent care that midwives provided me, my husband and I switched our primary care over to a doctor affiliated with Beverly Hospital (Dr. Jennifer Sutherland). My children are also under the care of Dr. Kriteman at Garden City Pediatric who is also affiliated with Beverly Hospital. I feel that the “risk” of not offering low-risk prenatal patients the opportunity to birth at the Birth Center is far greater then the “risk” of cost or a problem arising. It is also putting the NSBC in great “risk” of not being able to monitor pregnancies, assist and help deliver hundreds of babies each year. For those women who want to deliver at a “home” environment will be left with now where but their home to deliver their children. It is a simple shame to put money in front of the health of thousands of both babies and their mothers, for you cannot put a dollar amount on the gift of life.

I am proud to say that my child is a NSBC baby and dreaming about the day that one of the amazing midwives can help my family bring another child into this world. The North Shore Birth Center as an amazing group of talented midwifes who are well educated and do not pretend to be doctors nor handle more then they are capable. It would be a great tragedy if birthing at the NSBC was no longer available and would leave hundreds of women with no where to turn for prenatal care.

A letter sent by Cyndie…

To Whom It May Concern:

I was dismayed to learn that the Northeast Health Corporation is bringing forth a proposal to its Board of Trustees to no longer allow women to labor and birth at the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC). I am writing to share my feelings about the importance of maintaining the NSBC as an alternative to hospital births on the North Shore.

My first son was born at the NSBC in May 2007, and I am expecting my second child in February 2009. My choice to birth at the NSBC is based on my belief that childbirth should be a natural experience with minimal medical intervention. I was thrilled that my son was born into such a wonderful, supportive environment, and it was very reassuring to me to know that the Beverly Hospital was right across the street should my baby or I require medical care. I believe that the NSBC offers the best of both worlds: high standard of care with limited medical interventions in a warm, homey environment, as well as close proximity to the excellent medical care provided by Beverly Hospital if the patient or the baby is at risk.

As a patient, it is very concerning to me to learn that I may no longer have the choice to labor and birth at the NSBC. I believe it would be a mistake for the Northeast Health Corporation Board of Trustees to take this option away from low-risk women who do not wish to treat childbirth as a medical event. It is distressing to think that patients will lose the right to choose the NSBC, which is a safe, supportive environment with excellent quality of care, for the birth of their child because the Northeast Health Corporation wishes to implement uniformity of practice across all departments. I believe that low-risk women with “uneventful” pre-natal treatment should have the ability to choose an environment in which childbirth will be treated as a natural process rather than a medical problem.

In conclusion, although birth center births may not fit with the unified model of health care proposed by the Northeast Health Corporation, I believe women should have a range of options to select from. These options should reflect women’s needs and interests – not corporate policies. I implore the Board of Trustees to continue to allow the North Shore Birth Center to continue to provide safe, supportive environment for low-risk women to labor and deliver babies.

A letter sent by Jennifer…

Dear Northeast Health Corporation’s Board of Trustees,

I am writing in regard to the proposed cessation of births at the North Shore Birth Center. As both a healthcare provider and a mother who delivered at the Birth Center, I strongly urge you to continue to allow deliveries at the Birth Center.

I gave birth to my son, Alexander, on August 1, 2008 at the Birth Center and I could not have asked for a better experience. The midwives demonstrated their expertise throughout my labor and delivery, and in a supportive and caring environment, guided my husband and I through our experience. It was extremely important for me to be able to labor in a home-like environment, without the bright lights and sounds of a standard hospital room and without any pressure for unnecessary (and costly!) interventions. The birth of my son was a beautiful experience, and I feel grateful that I was able to deliver at the Birth Center. It would truly be a shame to lose this wonderful resource for such an important life experience. I can’t imagine having a child anywhere else and I hope that I will be able to deliver at the Birth Center again in the future.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope that the Board will agree that continuing to allow births at the North Shore Birth Center is extremely important to the community and to the many families that have delivered there.

A letter sent by Aina and James…

Dear Board of Trustees Members:

We have just heard, with great concern, the disheartening news that on November 18, 2008, you will consider a proposal to no longer allow women to labor or birth at the North Shore Birth Center (“Birth Center”). Our understanding is that if the Board approves this proposal, all existing and future birth center patients would be required to labor and birth at Beverly Hospital.

While we do not know the specific grounds for this proposal (little has been published about it), we have heard that the Hospital management is seeking a “Unified Model of Health Care” for the entire Beverly Hospital. To the best of our knowledge, this is related to the way hospitals are accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals: the standard is that the quality of care must be the same for all patients in a hospital.

For lack of better words, we have to say that we are shocked and dismayed by such a proposal. As patients, we certainly appreciate that hospitals strive for a uniform and top notch quality of care across their various departments. Although proponents of the proposal might generally argue that Birth Center births don’t “fit” with the unified model of health care, we do not believe there is any factual support for the proposition that the standard of care at the Birth Center is not uniform with (if not superior to) the rest of Beverly Hospital. Additionally, we strongly believe that pregnant women should have a range of options to select from in making the hugely important decision of where, how, and with whom to birth their children. These options should reflect women’s needs and interests, not corporate policies. Furthermore, the proposal is countered by the many advantages and clearly favorable statistics of natural childbirth, and in specific this Birth Center ( supporting information not included in this letter, since our understanding is that others have included all this information in their protests to the proposal). Those are facts and statistics that the Board should have access to in its consideration of the proposal and must in fact consider and give due weight to in making a reasoned and defensible decision.

We are thrilled to have had both our children (one 2 months, one almost three years) at the Birth Center. One of them was delivered via a water-birth. For me, Aina, the mom of these two children, the experience at the Birth Center was the most fulfilling and empowering I had so far in my life. Yes, certainly it was partly because of the result – birth of my children – but what made it really special and empowering were the midwives, the natural and safe process, and the environment (a quiet, warm, low key separate unit/house), all of which I have not yet seen or heard of being provided at any regular hospital. Likewise, I (Jim, the father of our two children) can attest to how wonderful the experience at the Birth Center was, not just respecting the highly professional and top-notch quality of care in my wife’s pregnancy, labor, and birthing, but respecting the warm and casual environment and surrounds, completely atypical of the more sterile, less personal, and high-throughput hospital birthing experience. We know many parents who have had their children at the Birth Center, and their experience was universally the same. We also know some presently expectant parents who planned to have their children at the Birth Center, and are greatly dismayed at this proposal.

When we were expecting our first child we researched extensively the options we had for the labor/birth. At first, when we contemplated delivering at a hospital as an option, we thought that a good hospital closest to our house would be our natural choice – because of distance, Beverly Hospital was NOT the first in our list. As a mother, considering my pregnancy was low-risk, after some more research and conclusion that it was safe and the healthiest way to go, I was determined to have my child naturally. For that, I had home birth and a birth centers as options. I favored a birth center as a mid-way option, to have the best of both worlds – being able to birth naturally, to try for a water-birth, with a midwife, in a quiet, low key, warm and personable environment, disconnected from a hospital, without medical intervention; all this together with the across-the-street accessibility to a hospital, just in case of any complication and need of medical intervention. That is when I found out about the Birth Center, what I consider to be a true local gem. Further our research into the Birth Center as a choice, we were pleased and encouraged to learn of the universally positive experience of other parents who had birthed there, as well as their impressive record of safe, health, complication free deliveries.

If there had been no North Shore Birth Center, we would have looked for another one (there is one in Cambridge, MA).If we did not find it, we would have either considered a home birth or, as a last disappointing resort, gone to the nearest hospital (NOT Beverly Hospital), still opting for a natural delivery with a midwife.

So, from a financial perspective, the Board should and needs to be aware that the North Shore Birth Center is bringing business to the Beverly Hospital, that the Birth Center can be the door opening to all the other Beverly Hospital services, that the Birth Center brings a positive image to Beverly Hospital, giving it an edge over the other nearby hospitals in terms of childbirth delivery. What better marketing could you hope for?! Since the Birth Center largely serves uncomplicated, and low-risk pregnancies, it also provides a benefit to Beverly Hospital by freeing up its Obstetrics/Delivery physicians and support staff to focus on what they are best equipped for, complicated, high-risk pregnancies, including C-sections.

We respectfully urge you, after careful thought and consideration of all the facts and evidence, to reject the proposal and allow the Birth Center to continue its wonderful work. We truly hope you decide to maintain the North Shore Birth Center tradition alive – for its professional and top-notch standard of care, for its patients (both moms and dads), for giving women more options, and, if for nothing else, considering the positive and marketable image the existence of the Birth Center unit brings to the Beverly Hospital. In these challenging times, when national debates rage about how to improve medical care and choices in this country while simultaneously cutting costs of care, it would be the wrong decision, as well as counterproductive one, to close the Birth Center.

A letter sent by Marilyn…

To the Board of Trustees,

I write today to support the continuation of the North Shore Birth Center as a free-standing maternity and women’s health center on the campus of Beverly Hospital. I also write to honor the birth of my son, born on this morning 24 years ago at the North Shore Birth Center. Finally, I write to honor the fine midwives who gently ushered him into the world and expanded my own professional practice of nursing.

I was introduced to the Birth Center in 1982/1983 as a graduate Maternal/Child nursing student at Boston College. By that time, I had been working as a Labor & Delivery/ Postpartum/Newborn Nursery nurse for six years at a large, teaching hospital in Boston, a job I loved and was highly skilled at. I had attended hundreds of high-risk, high-tech and high-interventionists births but had seen little of “natural childbirth”. In fact, I had experienced a similar type of hospital birth myself in 1980, a fact that I mention but do not write to disparage.

As a budding OB/GYN nurse practitioner I wanted to expand my scope of practice and requested to do a practicum at the North Shore Birth Center. There, I worked for a semester under the tutelage of path-breaking CNM’s Fran Ventre, Joan Richards and Debbie Black. This was a very valuable learning experience! I learned that childbirth care can be delivered safely and with dignity for low-risk patients in the home-like atmosphere of a free-standing maternity center associated with a reputable hospital. The birth center setting allows for individuation and flexibility in a way that a hospital setting simply cannot.

I returned to the Birth Center a year later as a pregnant patient seeking a safe alternative to a hospital-based birth. With the enthusiastic support of my late husband, a practicing Massachusetts physician, and attended by Debbie Black and Fran Ventre, I delivered our second child without medications, technology or complications. Five hours later, we returned home with our newborn son. Not only was this a personal, life-changing event, but it was also extremely cost-effective health care!

The free-standing birth center model at Beverly Hospital, the first of its kind in Massachusetts, is an ideal collaboration of safe midwifery and obstetrical practice. Freedom of choice for delivering women and their families is joined with the safety that close and open access to a hospital and obstetrical staff provides. If the birth center is closed, it will alienate and drive away a population of women who will not choose to deliver at Beverly Hospital but will, instead, choose to deliver at the only other birth center in the state in Cambridge, Massachusetts or will deliver at home, a choice that carries greater risks for both mother and child.

I was truly shocked and saddened to hear recently of the threatened closure of the North Shore Birth Center, a facility that has proudly provided choice and safety to childbearing families for 28 years. Closing it would be short-sighted and irresponsible. It would be a step backwards, especially in these times of increased rates of Cesarean Sections, economic crisis and the return to highly mechanized hospital births.

Please do the right thing and keep the North Shore Birth Center open.

Northeast Health Corporation’s Board of Trustees
c/o Mary Ellen Lear, Secretary
Beverly Hospital
85 Herrick Street
Beverly, MA 01915

Dear Sirs;

My name is Dr. Nicole Andrade and I own and operate Atlantic Family Chiropractic, PC in Gloucester for the past 9 years. I specialize in pregnancy and pediatric Chiropractic, and am certified in many proven effective techniques including the Webster Technique for pregnancy. I am currently half way through an additional 180 hour certification for my C.A.C.C.P. (Academy of Chiropractic Family Practice and the Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics), and I participate in a practice based research network to prove the efficacy and safety of chiropractic care in pregnancy. I refer more than eighty percent of my new moms to the birth center for services (approximately 25 women this year). The majority of moms in my practice are committed to a natural birth plan in a non-hospital setting but many are afraid to go as extreme as a home birth. The birthing center has served as the most amazing option for most of these women for the past nine years. It is unfortunate that our local North Shore moms are at risk for losing such a valuable resource, one that I feel sets Beverly Hospital apart from other local hospitals.

As a business owner I understand the importance of a balanced budget and consolidating where necessary, but this is one area where I see consolidation as a non-option. Although birth center births don’t fit with the unified model of health care, I believe women should have a range of options to select from. These options should reflect women’s needs and interests, not corporate policies. I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that my moms would opt for a non-hospital birth outside of Beverly Hospital if a hospital birth is given as their only option through your campus.

I have enjoyed working with your wonderful staff of midwives over the past nine years and my patients have been very satisfied with their experiences at the birth center. I prefer to support our local businesses as much as possible and I am sad to say that my moms with a non-hospital birth plan will most likely choose to seek care elsewhere as a hospital birth is consistent neither with their needs nor spiritual beliefs.

I would be more than happy to discuss the importance of these concepts and why myself, many of my holistic colleagues, and especially my young families would be gravely disappointed if this decision were to go through. Feel free to contact me at 978.317.xxxx at any time. Thank you for nine years of wonderful service through the NSBC. I hope to continue working with you in the future.

Bright Blessings,

Dr. Nicole K. Andrade
Chiropractic Physician, Holistic Healer, Public Health Educator

Atlantic Family Chiropractic, PC
The Dogtown Healing Sanctuary
Treetop Yoga Studio

The Para Research Building
85 Eastern Avenue
Gloucester, MA 01930
p. 978.282.4994
e. drnicole1@gmail.com
http://www.atlanticfamilychiro.com
http://www.treetopyoga.com

“We are a race of women that of old knew no fear and feared no death, and lived great lives and hoped great hopes.” – Olive Schreiber

cc: North Shore Birth Center
NANCY PALMER (Chairman of the Board)
GEORGE BURKE
CHARLES FAVAZZO
JOSEPH HALEY
ROBERT RIVES, Esquire
DAVID ST. LAURENT
MICHAEL C. SHEA, Esquire

November 14, 2008

Northeast Health Corporation Board of Trustees
C/O Mary Ellen Lear, Secretary
Beverly Hospital
85 Herrick Street
Beverly, MA 01915

Attention: Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health System:

It has come to my attention that you will be voting on November 18, 2008 to absorb the North Shore Birth Center into Beverly Hospital. I disagree with this proposal and feel closing the Birthing Center would be a great disservice to women who choose to receive their care in this type of environment.

I delivered my son at the North Shore Birth Center on June 16, 2008. I was blessed to have the right to choose birthing in this calm and loving environment with motherly and warm midwives by my side. My first son was born at the Wellesley Birthing Center 3 years ago and it closed shortly after his delivery. I was deeply saddened at the loss of this wonderful birthing center not only for me but also for all the mothers that would never have the opportunity to deliver their babies there.

I am a physician at Winchester Hospital and could have easily delivered our children there. We have a wonderful Labor and Delivery/Maternity unit at Winchester, but it was the “homey” environment at the North Shore Birth Center that drew me there. My husband and I had strong desires for a non-medicated labor process with minimal medical intervention using midwives. The North Shore Birth Center fulfilled this desire. Beverly is not the closest hospital to me for one and if I desired or needed a hospital for delivery, I would have chosen my employer, Winchester Hospital. When we have our third child, it will not be at Beverly Hospital.

It is true that the Birth Center does not fit with a unified model of health care but that is why women choose to deliver there in the first place. Labor and delivery ranges too much from individual to individual to make the “treatment” standardized. In fact, pregnancy and labor are not medical conditions at all. I believe closing the Birth Center would take away the right that women with low-risk pregnancies have to labor and deliver their babies in whatever environment they desire. Please consider voting against this proposal to close the North Shore Birthing Center.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

_________________________________________
Heidi Henrickson-Zohn, DC, DACCP

Dear Board of Trustee Members,

I would like to introduce myself as the HypnoBirthing Childbirth educator. I have taught childbirth education classes at Beverly Hospital since 2000 and I have had many of my couple’s birth at the North Shore Birth Center.

I don’t think that you realize just how much this birth center means to so many, not only in the Beverly area, but in the surrounding areas as well.

I also teach childbirth classes at my office in Newburyport and more than half of my couples, from the surrounding Newburyport area, want to birth at the Birth Center in Beverly because it is their choice to birth in a more home-like environment.

The birth center is an incredible option to be offered to birthing couples in a very large surrounding area, and I truly believe it would be foolish to close the doors there.

Many women want to birth in quieter, more comfortable surroundings than the sterility of a hospital environment and the option that Beverly Hospital offers is what makes it so special. The midwives there are so compassionate and supportive of birthing women and the home-like environment makes it even more comfortable and peaceful for them.

I urge you not to take this option away from birthing women. I truly believe that one of the major reasons that Beverly Hospital is so unique and progressive is because women are offered that choice.

We all know that a natural birth is not for every woman but for those who want to birth their babies in a quiet comfortable atmosphere with the option of a water birth, it is so very special. So many couples have had such beautiful births at the North Shore Birth Center. Please don’t take that option away. I urge you to continue to give women the option of birthing in a more natural way. The North Shore Birth Center has become so well known for this beautiful service and I urge you to please consider how this will affect so many women and the goodwill and reputation that Beverly has built on the North Shore.

Sincerely,

Mary E. Goldsmith, RN CH

My name is Sarah Geana and I recently gave birth to my daughter, Sofia, at the North Shore Birth Center. I heard from my childbirth class instructor that you are planning on no longer allowing women to give birth at the Birth Center. I feel that this is a very damaging step to take not only for the expectant mothers but also for the hospital as a whole.
When my husband and I started looking for a place to give birth, the one thing we were sure about was that as long as both the baby and I were healthy, we did not want to be in a hospital.
Both my husband and I feel quite strongly that a hospital is an excellent place to be when you need help managing pain and suffering. Carrying my child and giving birth to her does not constitute an automatic need for managing pain and suffering. If there had been any complications, then I would definitely consider other options and would be grateful for all that the hospital has to offer. However, considering that I am a healthy young woman and my daughter remained quite healthy throughout the pregnancy, I see no reason why I should have been forced to give birth to her in a hospital.
If this proposal passes and women are no longer allowed to give birth at the birth center, I will go somewhere else. And I am sure that I am not the only one who feels this way. I feel so proud that I was able to give birth to my daughter at the birth center naturally because I feel that I gave her the best possible start to life.
I thought I was prepared for labor. I wasn’t. It was the most intense and difficult challenge of my life. The pain was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Since I did not want any interventions I feel that being in the hospital would have countermanded all my intentions. A hospital is a place where pain is removed or dealt with. I did not want my pain dealt with. I wanted to deal with it. I knew that this pain, like no other pain in my life, was productive. This pain was purposeful—it would bring me my child. I did not want to miss a minute of this life-transforming experience.
I don’t think it is fair to ask doctors to train to relieve pain to the best of their abilities and then to turn around and demand that they also learn to stand by and watch a woman endure incredible amounts of pain to bring a child into the world. It’s too hard to switch gears like that. That is why having a hospital and a birth center working closely together is such a wonderful solution. The doctors are there if pain needs to be relieved, and the midwives are there to support those who want to endure the pain. Please do not undo the decades of work it took to bring Beverly Hospital and the North Shore Birth Center together. It would be a tragedy in the utmost.
There are those who would argue that it does not matter how a child is born so long as he and the mother are healthy. I agree…to some extent, but I also argue that I live in a prosperous country where freedom of choice is valued above all. Therefore, I ought to have the choice for where I am going to give birth to my child. If I want to be in a hospital where I must stay in my room and give birth then that is fine. If, however, I want to be in a room that resembles my bedroom with a kitchen down the hall and a door to the outside where I can walk then I want to be able to choose that as well. The birth center was ideal for me because I valued the aforementioned reasons.
My labor was long and tiring. At one point about 16 hours into the labor I felt done in – I was exhausted. My husband and I lay down and slept for about 10 – 15 minutes while my sisters rubbed my feet. When we got up I decided to go outside and walk. My whole demeanor changed. I was revived and I even told my husband, “Okay, let’s do this.” I was energized and ready to go. I gave birth to my daughter 7 hours later. As tired and exhausted as I was I also felt this tremendous sense of elation and accomplishment. We had done it. Together with my husband, my mother and my sisters, and most especially my excellent midwives—it took all of us—we had helped bring a brand new child into the world. Afterwards my husband and I fell into a deep sleep with our daughter between us on the bed. My mother slept on the couch in the living room at the birth center. The next morning we left for home by mid-afternoon.
I am so grateful that places like the North Shore Birth Center exist so that women like me can have the freedom to give birth in a more home-like environment. It was the perfect solution for me. Please do not take this away.

Sincerely,

Sarah Geana (& Sofia)

Here is the letter I sent:

To the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation,

I am writing to express my sadness and dismay over the potential closing of the NSBC.

On February 22nd, 2008, our precious baby was born at the NSBC. For the 6 weeks prior to Asher’s birth, I had premature contractions that required attention from the midwives. On every occasion they erred on the side of caution, and sent me to the hospital for the appropriate tests, and intervention when I needed medication to stop the contractions.

On the day of Asher’s birth, at 38 weeks, the snow fell steady and hard. All our original plans for our 6 and 9 year old children were canceled due to the storm. How wonderful that they were able to spend a full day at the NSBC, watching movies, reading books and eating snacks while their mom labored in a tub in the next room. Despite the screams coming from the next room, the kids told me that they were not at all worried about me. They were familiar with the center and knew that pain was just part of the process, and trusted that I was being well taken care of. I labored in the tub all day – with the attentive and fabulous Amanda by my side every minute, rubbing my back and keeping me focused. There were folks outside shoveling all day, to make sure there was a safe and quick access to the hospital should I have needed to transfer. I was afforded a safe and natural birth in the cozy atmosphere of the NSBC, surrounded by family, and cared for by the ultimate professionals. I am saddened to think that others may lose this opportunity.

On behalf of my family, please know how concerned we are at the potential transfer of all births to the hospital. It will be a great loss.

Sincerely,
Michelle Gottlieb
Marblehead, MA

Joseph Shepard
12 East Garfield Avenue
Beverly MA 01915

To The board of the Trustees!

The elimination of the North Shore Birth Center would be a terrible and unwise decision for more reasons that can even be explained with words. Poetry and Images may come close to the Birth Center as a place, never mind an idea- but I can not tell you how important it is to retain. To lose it would be a shame on the Board of Trustees and a shame on this beautiful city of Beverly.
Presently it is illegal to give in the Home- and the Birth Center is the next best thing.
The choice to avoid the right angles, harsh lights and cold traumatic psychological surgery room to enter into this world is not only an intelligent idea, but it is one filled with wisdom and a Love for the mystery of Life that seldom can and will ever grasp. Hospitals in general have a long way to go as places of healing in realms which have not even come up for discussion in our society, let alone in Beverly MA. The Birth Center is aeons above and beyond the things we usually consider in terms of how we view coming in and going out of this plane of existence. IT is a historical place; it is a place of choice for both Men and Women where there is no other choice and it is right here in Beverly. This city has made many poor decision when it comes to not recognizing what is important, and every time this happens our fair city becomes more generic, devoid of identify, and with no more soul or feeling than a houseplant
My beautiful daughter, who is now eleven years old, was born in this place, the comforting and relaxing atmosphere and the wonderful people who assisted made it possible for my Wife to experience a beautiful birth without drugs or the horrors associated with a Hospital room. I urge you to make it so the North Shore Birth Center not only remains but thrives. Thank you for your time.

Agape
Joseph H Shepard

…………………………………….

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