Monday, November 10, 2008

Save the North Shore Birth Center

As you know, we are having our baby at the North Shore Birth Center in Beverly. We were greatly saddened by the news that the board of trustees for the Northeast Health Corp., which owns the birth center and Beverly Hospital, will be voting on November 18 for a measure that would require all patients of the NSBC to deliver at Beverly Hospital due to financial concerns. Not only is this a concern for women in general and for our future births, but should this measure pass and be effective immediately, I will be at 41 weeks, 3 days on November 18. We don't know when the baby will be born, but this is certainly cutting it a little close.

The birth center has been open for twenty-eight years, has seen the births of over 6,000 babies, and was the first birth center in New England. It is one of only two birth centers currently open in Massachusetts and many families travel an hour or more to be seen at the birth center. The women who go to the birth center account for over a third of all births through the Northeast Health Corp., and it is rated among one of the top 100 places to birth in the country. Should the North Shore Birth Center close, its loss will not only affect those who are direct consumers, as it stands as model of care for birthing around the country.

Our hope is that even though this was brought to the board for financial reasons that financial reasoning will be what saves the birth center. The thought may be that whatever women originally chose the birth center will just continue their care with Beverly Hospital. Being the only birth center in the area, families at a considerable distance choose it for their place to labor and deliver. Should they want a hospital birth, there are certainly closer ones. Even though we just live over the bridge from Beverly, should we have wanted a hospital birth, we would have gone to Salem Hospital. Birthing aside, many families living closer to other hospitals choose Beverly Hospital for their non-emergency medical care because the fact that they have a birth center sends the message that they support low-intervention and more holistic health care as well as a patient's right to make decisions about their medical care. What would happen should the birth center close is that many families will choose to stay home or to travel to New Hampshire for a birth center (which would be our two options in the future). Even though we wanted this baby to be born at home (which was not achieved because of financial and transportation issues) and we hope for the ability to have homebirths in the future, we don't want to lose the option of the North Shore Birth Center.

Since finding out that this decision was going to a vote, there has been a large grassroots movement to save the birth center that has attracted the attention of local media and national birthing and women's rights groups. We attended a strategy meeting this weekend with a wonderful turnout of parents, parents-to-be, midwives, doulas, and doctors who support natural birth. We are in the process of doing what we can to help save the birth center. Whether you are a resident of the North Shore who has either used the birth center or would like to have the option in the future, you are someone who cares about a family's right to choose how and where their child is born, or you are a friend or family member of Baby Radue who is grateful that this baby has a chance to be born in a safe and comfortable environment (all studies show that for healthy low-risk women, a no-intervention birth with a trained midwife is safer than one in a traditional hospital setting), we would love to have your help in saving the birth center.

The best way of helping is to express your feelings to the board of trustees (no matter how short or long of a letter). The purpose of the board of trustees is to act in the best interest of the community, and we need to let them know this isn't what we want. The proper address is:

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

We will also be sending our letter to the individual board members who are listed below:

NANCY PALMER (Chairman of the Board)
9 Buttonwood Lane
Danvers, MA 01923

7 Ray Street
Beverly, MA 01915

Miller & Favazzo
27 Congress Street
Salem, MA 01970

75 Paine AvenueP
rides Crossing, MA 01965

Burns & Levinson LLP
125 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110

1 Virginia Place
Wenham, MA 01984

Pino & Shea
46 Middle Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

For more information and updates, you can go to:

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