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."