Friday, January 30, 2009

PeaceHealth Requires 100% Capitalization for Birth Center Relocation

Members of the Sacred Heart Medical Center Foundation campaign committee for the Birth Center at RiverBend recently learned Mel Pyne, Oregon Region CEO, does not support starting construction until the entire fundraising goal of $750,000 is in hand and the existing birth center building is sold. This was new information for many, if not all, of the committee members who were stunned by the 100% capitalization requirement.

One hundred percent capitalization is the same as limiting home ownership to individuals with sufficient cash reserves to buy outright without the benefit of mortgage lending tools. Tools that, when utilized judiciously, are generally deemed to have facilitated “the American dream.” Could other Sacred Heart Medical Center units have met either of these requirements before relocating to RiverBend in 2008? It is difficult not to connect these requirements in some way to PeaceHealth’s response to the economic downturn.

Katharine Gallagher, a Birth Center “mom” serving on the SHMC Foundation’s committee and a member of Lane County Friends of the Birth Center, contacted Mel Pyne to express concern over his lack of support. He responded that his and the PeaceHealth Oregon Region Executive Team’s support have always been contingent on (1) meeting the fundraising goal and (2) selling the current facility. In the year since she was invited to join the capital campaign, Katharine has seen no evidence of this extraordinary requirement being known or adequately informing the management and coordination of fundraising or other related efforts. Following is an excerpt of her response to Mel Pyne:

The consistency of the Oregon Region Executive Team's position has not been clearly communicated in the year that I have served as a community member on the capital campaign committee. I am not alone in being newly appraised and surprised by these contingent requirements having to be fully met before construction. (Are these criteria standard?) It is unlikely they will be met in time for the 2009 relocation. This, in turn, threatens future births occurring at the Birth Center as it disconnects the women/families, certified-nurse midwives and obstetricians with whom they collaborate from the birth center "ingredients" they have come to expect over the years: proximity to medical resources and geographic efficiency.

Regarding philanthropic efforts on behalf of the new Birth Center, I am confident tremendous support awaits cultivation. I understand the SHMCF is in the midst of reorganization and am optimistic that a more coherent and well-conceived effort for the new Birth Center will result. I have not heard any mention of the status of the current property's sale.
Earlier this month, Mel Pyne invited members of the Lane County Friends of the Birth Center to meet on February 13th. We appreciate his accessibility and look forward to encouraging PeaceHealth’s continued sensitivity and long-term commitment to providing an out-of-hospital childbirth option. Lane County Friends of the Birth Center continues to ask for the following responses from PeaceHealth:

  • A public statement of support for the Birth Center’s 2009 relocation adjacent to RiverBend
  • An evaluation of efforts to date and a revised project management plan reflecting a successful 2009 outcome
To support the Birth Center and the option for women to continue having out-of-hospital birth there, please take the following steps:

  • Sign the online petition (Updated copies will be submitted to the PeaceHealth Board of Directors on Monday, Feb. 2nd)
  • Submit letters to the editor to local media outlets (Send copies to for posting on Facebook)

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