Massachusetts lawmakers urge hospital to keep birth center open

Beverly (Mass.) Hospital is being urged by members of Congress from Massachusetts to hold off on closing its birth center, according to a July 13 announcement on Sen. Elizabeth Warren's website

Ms. Warren is one of the lawmakers who sent a letter to Beverly Hospital President Tom Sands asking him to reconsider closing its North Shore Birth Center, along with Sen. Ed Markey and Rep.House Representative Seth Moulton. The letter asks for a response from the hospital by Aug. 11. 

Following midwives and nurses continuing to deliver babies at the risk of contracting COVID-19  during the pandemic, the Massachusetts Nurses Association sought negotiation for its contract with the hospital. The MNA and Beverly Hospital were able to come to an agreement that included a 27 percent wage increase for hospital birth center staff. At that time, Beverly Hospital assured the MNA it had no plans to close its birth center.

However, eight days later, the hospital announced it would close the center, arguing that the wage increase that was supposed to help hire and keep nurses hadn't solved the center's ongoing staff shortage. 

"Beverly Hospital's decision to close the Birth Center almost immediately after reaching a contractual agreement to increase wages for the nurses and midwives that work there casts doubt on whether leadership ever intended to effectuate the negotiated wage increases," the lawmakers shared in their letter. "At its core, closing the North Shore Birth Center will deny women a choice in birth options and reproductive care, pushing patients away from more affordable, high-quality care into more expensive, hospital-based care."

Ms. Warren has made several efforts during her time in the Senate to protect maternal healthcare, most recently by introducing the Mamas First Act in April, which seeks to increase Medicaid coverage to include midwifery care such as doulas or tribal midwifery. 

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