Saturday, December 20, 2008

Write a letter in support of the Birth Center’s future!

Give the gift of your time – write a letter in support of the Birth Center’s future. Why now? Fundraising efforts have a way to go. Like other organizations, be they household or corporate, PeaceHealth will most certainly tighten its belt in 2009 by putting off planned expenditures. If this should occur, the timing could not be worse, given 2009 is the year slated for construction and opening of the new free-standing Birth Center at RiverBend.

Right now, we must let PeaceHealth know the community remains as passionately supportive and committed to the Birth Center's future as it was in the 1990s when the decision to shut it down was reversed. Our letters will help decision makers to see this tremendous asset as worthy of priority status in 2009. Our testimonials are an important step to garnering the support of Board members and other “concerned parties” in a position to protect the future of the Birth Center. Using a positive tone to convey our experiences, we can bring their attention to and help connect them with the critical importance of preserving this birthing option in a new free-standing facility as planned. Anonymous letters will be accepted.

Here's some information to get you started:

To whom should you address your letter?
Start with "Dear PeaceHealth Board of Directors and other concerned parties:"

Letters will first be shared with PeaceHealth CEO Mel Pyne. The more letters the better as a strong showing increases our chances of being granted time at a board meeting.

What should you do with your letter once it’s written? Pick one of the following options:
  1. Share it on our Facebook discussion board titled "Post your letters here!". Cut and paste your letter into the "Reply box" and then click "post reply." Seeing one another's letter will, no doubt, provide encouragement and inspiration for our efforts!
  2. If you do not have access to Facebook, email it to and we'll post it for you.
  3. For anonymous letters, email it to and we'll post it without identifying information.
  4. If you do not want your letter posted on Facebook, please indicate this in your email to
Writer’s block? Try the following suggestions to overcome it:
  • Use the prompts at the bottom of this post to get you started
  • Click here to see letters that community supporters of another birth center have written
  • Remember, your letter does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. How often do you tell this to your kids? Go forth and write!
Need inspiration?
Sharing your personal experience and beliefs surrounding the role the Birth Center played / plays in the life of your family will help busy administrators and decision makers get in touch with what we all know – this is a special, unique resource that more than merits cultivation rather than having its future threatened through inaction and oversight. Who but the families, friends and supporters of the Birth Center can do this?

If your letter's done, now what?
Have your partners, friends, family write a letter, too! Do you know anyone else who used the Birth Center? Let them know how much their letter means to the future of the Birth Center and ask them to write one by January 4th.
(Send or have them send their contact info to to join our distribution list.)

Writing prompts
Here are a few prompts to get your creative juices going. They were teased from letters already written in support of another birth center. Answer some, none or all as is helpful to you or not!

  • Why did you choose the Birth Center? Intimate / private atmosphere, freedom of movement, minimal distractions, ease and grace of the midwives, empowering experience, birth viewed as a normal event in a woman’s life, believed it offered an environment that positively affects birth outcomes, initiating breastfeeding successfully and incorporating a new child into the family
  • Why did you opt against a hospital birth? Unfamiliar staff, ambient noise, unfamiliar medical environment, interventions, pressure to agree to interventions, absence of support by staff experienced in natural childbirth
  • Importance of respecting a woman's desire for natural birth and providing for this kind of birth experience through a freestanding birth center. To do otherwise, limits every woman's right to choose the atmosphere of her child's birth.
  • If you no longer had the option of using the Birth Center, how would you plan future births? Could PeaceHealth count on you going to RiverBend?
  • Did you travel far in order to use the Birth Center?
  • Have you had a hospital birth and a Birth Center birth? If so, how do they compare?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birth Center friendraiser update - we have work to do!

Last night, moms, one lovely family and supporters attended a “friendraiser” for the new Birth Center. Plans for opening the new site near RiverBend in August 2009 were reviewed and discussed. While a lot remains to be done, it's fair to say the new birth center will be worthy of our community.

Features of the new birth center
Features include two birth rooms with Jacuzzi tubs making waterbirth an option. A hybrid room will serve as a third birth room when needed. Appropriate space for the well-baby clinic and educational programs as well as office space for the midwives, staff and the in-house lab is included. Right now, office work, lab work and lunch breaks all occur in the current site's kitchen all while moms and babies stream in and out! Perhaps one of new birth center's loveliest features is its location amidst a grove of well established fir trees through which a walking path will be created.

Site plans were recently approved by the City of Springfield. Stay tuned for news of permit pulling.

Fundraising update
In the past year and a half, approximately 40% of the capital campaign goal of $750,000 has been raised. Campaign funds combined with the estimated $400,000 sale of the present site will provide the $1,150,000 needed to build the new birth center. 100% of the Birth Center staff have already pledged or contributed.

Take nothing for granted
Of course, no one, including PeaceHealth, is immune to the effects of the current economy. As priorities are re-examined from the kitchen table to the board room, it's unrealistic to assume the Birth Center will become a reality without vigorous, united community support. This is especially important given more than half of the campaign goal remains to be met. What can we do to ensure the future of our freestanding Birth Center?
  1. Everyone who supports the Birth Center and wants to see the new one built can write a letter of support. Explain why this option was important to you and your family. Emphasize how it reflects your needs and interests and those of other women in the community. Ask husbands, partners and grandparents to write letters, too! Email your letter to and, if you like, post it here to inspire the rest of us to get going! Letters will be shared with individuals and decision-making bodies in a position to positively affect plans for the new birth center.
  2. Make a gift to the Birth Center campaign – no amount is insignificant. Gifts of $5 and $10 demonstrate breadth of community support and they do add up. Click here and select "Birth Center Campaign."
  3. If you would like to be involved in coordinating community support, send an email.

A closing thought…..

Last night's friendraiser was originally scheduled over at RiverBend before being moved to the Birth Center. Things have a way of working out as everyone seemed genuinely pleased to have a reason to linger in the Birth Center living room once again. Certainly, memories of prenatal and well-baby visits floated through more than one person's thoughts during the course of the evening. No doubt, many women opting to receive prenatal care at the Birth Center treasure not only the arrival of their baby but the community of friends and wrap-around support they take with them into the future. In Parenting as a Spiritual Journey Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer's description of contemporary community building sums up the feeling in the room beautifully:
An old saying has it that a house is not a home until there has been a birth, a death, and a wedding in it. These days, few people live in the same home from birth to death, and even fewer are born at home, marry at home, or die there. Our communities become our homes. (page 48)
People who use the Birth Center come to see it as their community. In light of this, the enthusiasm and commitment to seeing it gracefully transition into its new location is not surprising. That said, it is exciting to watch!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Call to Action- Make Sure Birth Centers Get Paid!

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has directed its regional offices to stop federal payments to any state for birth center services. This is a significant shift in reimbursement practices as birth centers have been a recognized Medicaid provider type in State Medicaid plans since 1987. So far, affected states include Alaska, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington. 

Denial of reimbursement is a problem not only because it bars local women with Medicaid from accessing care at the Birth Center but also because other insurers may follow CMS and deny coverage for birth center care. This is not an unusual practice. 

Check the American Association of Birth Centers website for more information and contact Senator Wyden and Senator-elect Merkley and Congressman DeFazio.  Tell them you want to see the Birth Center remain an option for all women. If you make the call, please email so we can let AABC. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Organic birth at your local birth center

The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center in MA continues to successfully prevent closure of one of only two freestanding birth centers in that state. There's been terrific media coverage of the affiliated hospital's plan to close this well-loved community asset and the ensuing local outrage that resulted most recently in a rally of 200 people on a very cold New England day. That's commitment!

One of the local newspapers just did a summary piece on where things stand - "Hospital president to meet with birth center advocates." What's interesting about this article and worth considering, given the nature of our local community, is the powerful effect of the organic / green movement on the growing demand for natural birth. This is a sensible connection to make, particularly here, where evidence of the organic / green movement's influence on local life is strong. Here's the portion of the article that's especially of interest:
Out of about 195 birth centers, about seven to 10 close each year. But for every one that closes, another one opens, she said. And, falling in line with the whole organic and green movement, more people are opting for a natural birth, and Enst believes birth centers are starting to grow as a result.

"Birth centers in general are growing because there's a rising tide going on in how we birth," she said. "It's giving women back control of their birth experience."

As natural births become more popular, she suspects centers will be in high demand.
"Beverly ought to slow down," she said. "They may be giving up the best thing they got."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Birth Center a great Community Asset in light of National Priorities Partnerships’ Recommendations for Healthcare Reform

Last week, the National Priorities Partnership (Partnership) - a diverse group representing national organizations who receive, pay for, deliver, and evaluate healthcare - released transparency-based recommendations to promote better health and more affordable care by eliminating unscientific and unwarranted interventions including tests, procedures, drugs and hospital stays. Eliminating inappropriate maternity care interventions, specifically targeting cesarean section, is one of the Partnership’s targets for improved healthcare.

Locally, the option to birth at the Birth Center is key to reducing unnecessary cesarean sections, especially among low-risk, first-time moms. Why? Birth centers have documented significantly lower rates of cesarean births. According to the 1989 “National Birth Center Study” published in the New England Journal of Medicine:
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.
Given the direction of national healthcare policy, growing consumer demand for maximum choice in birth options and what we already know about birth center outcomes, maybe we’ll even see a call for increasing capacity beyond current plans for the new Nurse Midwifery Birth Center!

At any rate, the current climate suggests greater requirements for demonstrating transparency in care. Accreditors, payers and consumers will increasingly make decisions according to how well transparency standards are met. PeaceHealth's commitment to relocate the Birth Center demonstrates an admirable understanding of its vital importance as a well-loved, high-quality and much-needed community resource.

Among the Partnership’s 28 member organizations is the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the leading hospital accreditor. Sacred Heart Medical Center received its Gold Seal of Approval. Given the Join Commission’s participation in developing new standards for transparency in health care, it’s reasonable to assume its own standards for accreditation will reflect these priorities. The new Birth Center will, no doubt, reflect beautifully on RiverBend as it pursues a similar seal of approval.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Local support prevents immediate closure of MA Birth Center, for now

Community members' efforts to preserve the more than 20-year old option of birthing at the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC) are paying off.

Last week, while the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation considered closing NTSB nearly 200 people rallied in the bitter cold advocating for the birth center’s future. All major Boston TV stations, newspapers and radio stations covered the rally. The Trustees have decided to deliberate further. To learn more and to offer words of support, check out The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center.

Here’s hoping NSBC remains in service and that Massachusetts women continue to benefit from the option that Lane County women enjoy: birthing in a home-like setting in proximity to an affiliated hospital.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Check out Lane County Friends of the Birth Center's blog

Welcome to Lane County Friends of the Birth Center's new blog! Since announcing our creation last month, our circle of friends has expanded to more than 200 individuals including moms and their family members, birth-related professionals, community supporters, and elected officials.

You should also join our group on, "Lane County Friends of the Birth Center." Please also visit Lane County Friends of the Birth Center's blog frequently and let others know about this resource where the following information will be updated regularly:

Birth Center baby album
Updates for the new Birth Center
Birth in the media
Local resources
National resources
Goings on in the Birth Community (local and national)

On the topic of "Goings on in the Birth Community," Jo Federigo's will host a November 19th benefit to support Doulas Supporting Teens, a local non-profit organization providing prenatal, birth, and postpartum support to pregnant and parenting teens in Lane County. 100% of all proceeds go to direct program expenses so come on out for appetizers, cocktails and some great live jazz. Contact Doulas Supporting Teens for $20 advance tickets; $25 at the door.

We hope that using the blog will inspire and invigorate appreciation for the Birth Center's service to local families. Did you know that the Birth Center has been designated "Baby Friendly" by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, a worldwide project of UNICEF and the World Health Organization? This designation is given to recognize birth centers that take special steps to provide an optimal environment for breastfeeding. The Birth Center is also Oregon's only facility to be accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers.

That's all for now - I look forward to your feedback on this evolving resource either directly posted or via email at And see you on Facebook!

Best wishes,
Katharine Gallagher

Friday, October 24, 2008

Announcing Lane County Friends of the Birth Center


I am pleased to let you know about the newly formed “Lane County Friends of the Birth Center” (FBC). FBC is a volunteer-led endeavor to connect Birth Center families, new and old, as well as community members in support of the unique services provided at the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center.

Lane County Friends of the Birth Center objectives are:
  1. Raising awareness of and on-going support for the midwifery model of care
  2. Maintaining contact among mothers and families affiliated with the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center as well as community supporters
  3. Offering periodic updates and information about special events for the Birth Center community. (Following is the first update!)
Update #1:
  • Last week was National Midwifery Week. The Birth Center celebrated by sharing plans for a new building near the RiverBend campus. Stop by the Birth Center to see them! If you are interested in attending a presentation about the new facility, please let me know.
  • In conjunction with National Midwifery Week, the American College of Nurse-Midwives unveiled some very beautiful midwifery-themed postage stamps.
  • The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) recently launched The Birth Survey (TBS). The Survey offers women the opportunity to anonymously provide as well as access feedback about care with a doctor, midwife, hospital, birth center or home birth service. To take the survey or access survey results as they become available, use the following link:

Best regards,
Katharine Gallagher