To: Dennis Keefe, Care New England CEO, Arthur Deblois, Michael Tauber, Sandra Coletta, Executive VP of Care New England, Sandra Coletta, Executive VP of Care New England, Lawrence Prince, MD, Lawrence Prince, MD, John Byrne, MD, Chief Medi...

Care New England: Do not close the birthing center at Memorial Hopsital

We urge you not to close the Birthing Center at Memorial Hospital. The Birthing Center offers families the care we seek and demand: high-quality, compassionate, and evidence-based. Furthermore, the Birthing Center provides a nationally-recognized training location for physicians focused on serving the most vulnerable populations throughout our country.

Why is this important?

When I gave birth to my first child, the staff at The Birthing Center at Memorial Hospital offered me more than rote medical care. They held my hand, rubbed my back, and looked me in the eyes. Every staff member I encountered knew my name and respected my choices. Through the exceptional care I received during my labor, I came to believe in myself. You can't put a price tag on that kind of family-centered, evidence-based care.

My family has learned that Care New England (CNE) is considering closing the Birthing Center at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island (MHRI). We are horrified and angered that CNE would prioritize financial interests over the care of the families it serves.

The Birthing Center provides patients from diverse communities and backgrounds respectful, high quality, and evidence-based care. It serves local families from Pawtucket and Central Falls (including women and babies at highest risk for poor health outcomes due to economic and racial healthcare disparities), alongside educated urban elites, including some who cross state borders because of the Birthing Center’s reputation.

The Birthing Center staff cares for tenured Ivy League professors, medical professionals, women recently immigrated, incarcerated women and local high school students with the same deep respect and compassionate care regardless of income or education.

We urge you to prioritize the high quality care being provided to some of the state’s most marginalized families at MHRI over the potential cost savings of service consolidation.

We urge you to recognize that the Birthing Center at MHRI is the choice of many of the most privileged and educated families in our state.

Closing the Birthing Center would do a monumental disservice to RI women and families. MHRI is the only hospital in the state that implements the principles of Mother-Friendly care, as outlined in the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services' Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative. MHRI has an unwavering commitment to normal physiologic birth, skilled support for vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC), groundbreaking and now well-established Gentle Cesarean, and consistently respectful and individualized care.

This model of care cannot be found in any other hospital in our state; it is the result of countless years of focused effort and the commitment of an interdisciplinary team of birth professionals.

The impact of the Birthing Center at MHRI reaches far beyond the borders of RI. As the training site for Brown University’s Maternal Child Health Fellowship, the Birthing Center at MHRI provides family medicine physicians with nationally recognized and respected supplementary training in high-risk obstetrics within a community-centered model of care. Its graduates both serve our nation’s most vulnerable women and children in physician shortage areas, and work to overcome health care disparities affecting families of color and those living in poverty.

In light of this, to close the Birthing Center is to abolish CNE’s most historically enduring, unwavering example of life-saving maternity care to underserved populations.

Please understand that those of us afforded the privilege to do so will travel considerable distances to obtain high-quality, compassionate, evidence-based and family-centered care – the kind of care that ALL families deserve. Should the Birthing center be closed, we will work to be sure that all families understand their rights and options in choosing maternity care.

If CNE does not value the Birthing Center, it does not value me. It does not value its patients - as women and men, as mothers and fathers, as engaged citizens, and as consumers of health care services. If CNE does not value its patients, then it will lose them.

If the Board decides to put profits over patients, I will obtain all possible medical care for my family outside of the CNE system.

I urge you to reconsider any plans for closure.

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