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LETTERS

Pushback against plans to close North Shore Birth Center

Advocates and their children rallied outside Beverly Hospital this month to protest Beth Israel Lahey Health System's plan to close the North Shore Birth Center, a midwifery practice that has operated on the hospital's campus since 1980.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Facility offers an option that must remain available

Anyone who supports reproductive rights should oppose the impending closure of the North Shore Birth Center (“Cuts to maternal health ignite anger,” Metro, June 14). The birth center is the only place most Massachusetts residents can seek an out-of-hospital birth without paying out of pocket. It is also one of the only places where patients can fully experience the midwifery model of care.

I struggled with infertility before conceiving through in vitro fertilization. After years of stressful and traumatic medical appointments, it was healing to receive care at the North Shore Birth Center rather than at a traditional doctor’s office or hospital. I was also able to have a water birth at the center, which would have been prohibited at Beverly Hospital.

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If my wife and I are blessed with a second child, I hope the birth center will be open. As stated in Kay Lazar’s article, more patients are opting to give birth at the center. We cannot remove this option for anyone, especially marginalized people who may not receive adequate care in a hospital setting and cannot afford a home birth. Let’s send a strong message to Beth Israel Lahey Health: This community needs the North Shore Birth Center.

Rebecca Haley-Park

Ipswich


Given data on midwifery, hospital’s decision is bad policy

I was disappointed to read that Beth Israel Lahey Health is closing the North Shore Birth Center. As a recent patient at the birth center (I had my baby there in October), I found this news distressing. For 42 years, thousands of parents have received exemplary care at the center, where they are empowered to decide how and where they give birth. The hospital’s decision robs parents of that choice. Worse, the decision is bad policy.

Recently, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission noted that midwives deliver “improved patient outcomes and lower spending,” addressing “ongoing equity concerns surrounding birthing.” Nationally, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently found a modest increase in the use of midwives could save $4 billion and improve health outcomes, and that midwives “result in fewer preterm births and fewer episiotomies.” More midwives attending births is a textbook win-win.

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Beth Israel Lahey Health’s decision contradicts policy recommendations and common sense. The hospital cited staffing shortages at the birth center, but I find that to be a thin excuse for closing it. Beth Israel Lahey Health must explain why it undervalues the history of the North Shore Birth Center and ignores recommendations that suggest that midwives improve care and save money. The data are clear: We need more midwives, not fewer.

Brittany Kenny Gomes

Beverly