Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Preserve services and continue care during construction

May 19, 2009

Mr. Mel Pyne
Chief Executive Officer
PeaceHealth Oregon Region
P.O. Box 1479
Eugene, OR 97440

Dear Mel:

On behalf of the Friends of the Birth Center steering committee and the many women who have contacted our group, I am writing to express profound concern over the process and direction of interim planning for the Birth Center. The plan, as I understand it, fails to preserve the practice’s model of care and to maintain continuity of care, criteria critical to the Birth Center’s long-term viability.

With assurances of our involvement in interim planning, Friends of the Birth Center left the April 10 meeting with you confident of a process that would result in transparency and integrity. We indicated reluctant willingness to support a plan in which out-of-hospital birth services might cease temporarily so long as all other remaining services remained intact. Chris Miles told us to expect an invitation to join interim planning before May. We received no invitation or follow up. After the May 9 dedication, you responded to our follow up inquiry that Chris, Kitty and Kathy would soon be in touch to set up a meeting. No contact was made. Chris did attend the May 14 campaign meeting. There she made additional assurances of an upcoming meeting. While I learned of plans for this meeting, I received no invitation. When I followed up, the meeting was cancelled and pushed to next Tuesday.

June 30th, the date Birth Center staff are to vacate the current location, is fast approaching and interim planning no doubt continues internally without us. At the May 14 meeting, Chris briefly and with little follow-up detail described a scenario in which Birth Center births would move inside the hospital and a reduced staff would work out of the PHMG downtown clinic. Reduced staffing would be felt in diminished birth and postpartum lactation services for which the Birth Center is a respected, in-demand center of excellence. Such a plan undercuts the very long-term goals inherent in our recent, outstanding short-term efforts thus far to relocate the Birth Center.

Dismantlement, as an organizing principal, dramatically and significantly increases facility and provider costs born by families and insurers, including taxpayer funded OHP. The Birth Center facility fee is approximately $2,000 as compared to a hospital facility fee of $8,000. It would also appear that physicians would gain financially as they would collect a provider fee from women who are pushed to bring their births inside the hospital. How could this not create a disincentive for the hard work of reassembling a dismantled staff and rebuilding a scattered clientele at the end of construction? Accordingly, we see dismantlement as a catastrophic blow with the potential to fully undermine birth center-based midwifery, a model of care touted and much loved in this community for its affordability, access and truly excellent outcomes.

Pregnant women and new mothers using the Birth Center have no idea where their next prenatal appointment will be or where they will birth their babies, or where or if they will receive the stellar lactation services for which the Birth Center is revered. We should all try to imagine how upended a woman in her third trimester or newly breastfeeding must be feeling right now. All of us, regardless of the complexities involved, have an absolute obligation to these women who, in good faith, initiated care with the understanding that the Birth Center model of care would be there for them.

Please direct interim planning to serve women and families. A temporary out–of-hospital space in which the Birth Center model of care remains intact, ready to relocate post construction and in which women receive continuity of care is best. We are aware of a vacant, potentially code-appropriate building around the corner from the current Birth Center site. If this cannot work, we would like consideration of the SHMC Foundation’s RiverBend house.

At the May dedication, we joined PeaceHealth in commitment to the sacred purpose of serving women and children through relocating the Birth Center. Let us protect and preserve it with an effective interim plan. Otherwise, the community's opportunity to have the finest program of its type in the nation will slip through our fingers. We look forward to hearing from you and to participating in next week’s interim planning meeting.

Katharine Gallagher

The Steering Committee of the Lane County Friends of the Birth Center
Renee Bailey
Krystal Box
Eden Cronk
Brooke DeWitt-Boyer
Katherine Fisher

Katharine Gallagher
Karen Guillemin
April Hartley
Kirsten Hughes
Kathy Lynn
Jena Price
Eleanor Vandegrift

cc: Mel Pyne, CEO, PeaceHealth Oregon Region
Tom Ewing, PHMG Medical Director for PeaceHealth Internet Services
Phil Farrington, Director, Land Use Planning & Development
Liz Gibson, SHMC Foundation Campaign Chairperson
Chris Heritage, CNM, Birth Center Midwife, SHMC Foundation Campaign member
Cindy Hunter, CNM, Birth Center Midwife, SHMC Foundation Campaign member
Vern Katz, MD, SHMC Foundation Board Member
Rick Kincade, MD, PHMG and PeaceHealth Oregon Region Board Member
Kathi Levell, Executive Director of Planning for PeaceHealth Medical Group
Randy Lewis, MD, SHMC Foundation Campaign Physician Chairperson
Rueben Mayes, Executive Director of SHMC Foundation
Chris Miles, Chief Operating Officer
Michele Peters-Carr, CNM, Employee Campaign Co-Chair
Kitty Schiffer, Patient Care Executive for Sacred Heart Medical Center
PeaceHealth Oregon Region Board
SHMC Foundation Board
Lane County Friends of the Birth Center blog (http://www.lanecofbc.blogspot.com)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Birth Center interim planning - preservation and continuity of care are key

Lane County Friends of the Birth Center appreciates and looks forward to joining PeaceHealth to develop an interim plan for the period in which Birth Center services will be affected by construction.

There are two organizing principles we believe essential to sustaining the integrity of the Birth Center in the short- and long-term. They are (1) preserving the practice and (2) ensuring continuity of care. We advocate an interim out-of-hospital arrangement; and yet we recognize that making this work poses significant challenges for PeaceHealth. Whatever the outcome of interim planning, utilizing the two organizing principles defined below will provide an outcome that truly serves PeaceHealth, the Birth Center practice and its clientele.

Preserving the Birth Center Practice
Affordability & Access
Facility fees at the Birth Center are one quarter of hospital facility fees.

The Birth Center has earned and maintained prestigious licensure and accreditation. Both would be lost inside the hospital.

(1) Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC)
(2) Baby-Friendly designation from UNESCO and WHO

The Birth Center is a national leader in breastfeeding – possibly the nation’s top leader.

The CDC publishes national breastfeeding initiation rates. Recently, the Northwest and Hawaii had the highest rates; Oregon was tied for the highest rates in the Northwest; Lane County had the highest rates in Oregon and the Birth Center without a doubt has the highest rates in Lane County.

Families will be most well served, if they understand how their care will be affected. Communicating clearly about the final interim plan will enable them to make informed decisions about their care. Transparency is key to the Birth Center maintaining and growing its clientele.

A timeline including groundbreaking, construction and a grand opening would be invaluable to clearly communicating the bright future everyone anticipates.

Ensuring continuity of care for mothers, babies and families
Prenatal appointments
Childbirth education classes
Breastfeeding classes

Midwives and nurses with expertise in non-medicalized / natural birth
Lactation consultants specially trained to assist in breastfeeding initiation
3-day home / hospital visit for breastfeeding and early mother-baby care
Midwives authorized to discharge mother and baby

Weekly drop-in well baby clinic and lactation support
24-hour lactation support service
6-week post-partum appointment

We genuinely appreciate the opportunity as community members and consumers to join interim planning. While the process is rife with considerable challenges, we remain confident that an excellent, workable plan is within reach.

Stay tuned and please continue to send your feedback at lanecofbc@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birth Center Dedication

On Saturday, May 9th PeaceHealth hosted a dedication ceremony for the new Birth Center.

As members of the community, Lane County Friends of the Birth Center's steering committee attended. For most of us, it was the first opportunity to fully appreciate the generosity PeaceHealth has shown in dedicating such a uniquely beautiful space. Mel Pyne, CEO, PeaceHealth Oregon Region was our host. His kind words conveyed a level of commitment in which we feel great confidence and appreciation. The morning was a true celebration of the future Birth Center, all the more special for falling on Mother’s Day weekend. Thank you!

Click here to watch the video online with the option of full-screen viewing.

The following comments were offered during the dedication by Katharine Gallagher on behalf of Lane County Friends of the Birth Center:

Strong and capable mothers are essential to our community. When women thrive, we all prosper. The Birth Center facilitates this connection between individual women and the well being of our community.

Thru respectful, humane partnership, Birth Center midwives, lactation consultants, nurses and support staff nurture and inspire women on their journey to motherhood.

Because so many of us, mothers and fathers, get our start away from the support and generational wisdom found within extended family, the Birth Center becomes our second home before, during and after our babies arrive. We learn early on that its door is always open and it’s just a phone call away, no matter the time, the day or the question at hand.

The Birth Center honors our community every day in every thing it does to cultivate and send strong mothers, empowered fathers and healthy, beautiful babies out into the world.

Friends of the Birth Center, comprised of community members, deeply appreciate Mel Pyne’s leadership and PeaceHealth’s commitment to the Birth Center.